Lauren Mitchell could be our greatest
Artistic Gymnast Lauren Mitchell. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Lauren Mitchell's coach likes to talk about the little steps on the path to success.

If the experienced gymnast can put her feet in the right place at Glasgow 2014 she can take a giant leap into WA sporting greatness.

One more stride on the podium in New Delhi four years ago and she would have achieved the honour of joining the late Decima Norman as the State's most succ-essful Commonwealth Games athlete.

Norman was triumphant in five track and field events at the then Empire Games in 1938.

Mitchell had four gold medals going into her final event on the 2010 program, the floor exercise.

Then mentor Nikolai Lapchine had a word in her ear.

"My coach told me that about 20 minutes before the start of the floor finals in Delhi and that was the only one in which I won silver. So thanks Nikolai," said the bubbly Mitchell with respect to her coach.

"I haven't been reminded about it until now. It would be pretty cool (to have the honour). I guess I'd be pretty impressed with myself. But it is still all about the little steps along the way.

"My aim is to go in and hit my routines and if I do that it should be enough to get me into the finals. Once I'm there anything can happen."

Just advancing to a second Commonwealth Games has been a gutsy performance by Mitchell, who turned 23 on the day of the Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony.

She didn't compete for about 18 months as she procrastinated about shoulder surgery before going under the knife and enduring the long rehabilitation road.

There were doubts about whether Mitchell would be able to return. Irrespective of the operation, she had been sidelined since the 2012 Olympics.

But the medical imaging student proved her arm was in good working order by winning the national floor crown in May.

"Going into surgery I was also conscious that I might get frozen shoulder," Mitchell said.

"I took two months to be able to lie on the ground with the weight in my hand and be able to put it on the floor behind my head."

One physical battle every sportsperson can't overcome is age.

Mitchell joins fellow West Australian, Olivia Vivian, 25, in a seasoned national team in Glasgow.

Indeed, Vivian is being called the grandma of the group.

Mitchell believed their experience has helped.

"There are more old gymnasts because the sport has changed. There is now a focus on power rather than being too graceful," Mitchell said.

"I was with Larissa Miller in London. Olivia was with me in Beijing. Mary-Anne (Monckton) and Georgia-Rose (Brown) were reserves for London.

"It is knowing each other and knowing the personalities."

The Commonwealth Games gymnastics events begin in Glasgow today.

The West Australian

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