Rio calling but Little up in air
Emily Little. Picture: John Mokrzycki.

After 12 years preparing for her first Olympic Games, WAIS gymnast Emily Little will take her time before deciding if she is willing to commit to another four years for Rio de Janeiro.

Post-Olympic soul-searching is nothing new for Australia's sporting elite, but the answers are more complicated for female gymnasts, who also have to consider physical changes which could inhibit their ability to remain in the sport while upgrading their skills for the next Olympic cycle.

At 18, Little was the youngest in the team and has the best chance of extending her career for four more years. Two-times Olympic teammates Lauren Mitchell and Ashleigh Brennan, both 21, and Georgia Bonora, 22, are unlikely to make it to a third Games.

After a week back home from London, Little will be discussing her future with her family and coaches after anchoring Australia's Olympic campaign with a 15th in the individual all-around competition - up from 23rd at last year's world championships.

The team disappointingly slipped in the world rankings from sixth to 10th after crucial mistakes on the floor and beam during team qualifying. But Little was rock solid on all four apparatus.

"It has been a long haul getting to London," she said. "What I have to decide is whether my body will hold up and whether I want to take on the physical and metal challenge of another four years of dedicated training."

Little is also unsure whether she will be too old to compete at elite level at 22, even though there are some outstanding athletes who have remained in the sport well into their 20s.

"I still love learning new skills and that is what would be required to upgrade my routines," she said.

"I produced my best scores at the Olympics but there is room for more improvement."

Little shared the major medals at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games with WAIS training partner Mitchell and could be encouraged to look towards Glasgow in 2014.

But for now she will be spending as much time as possible learning to drive.

"Mum has spent the past 10 years driving me from Armadale to WAIS for training every day and is looking forward to me getting behind the wheel myself," she said.

"I produced my best scores at the Olympics but there is room for more improvement.""WAIS gymnast *Emily Little *

The West Australian

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