Entertainment

Athlete faces tough new obstacle on TV

Olympic gymnast Larrissa Miller tackling the tough course.
Olympic gymnast Larrissa Miller tackling the tough course. Australian Ninja Warrior/Nine

WHEN Larrissa Miller was scouted to audition for Australian Ninja Warrior, it didn't take too long for her to accept the out-of-the-blue offer.

Even though the Olympic gymnast hadn't trained in about four months.

It's no surprise the talented athlete, who grew up in Moranbah, decided to tackle the extreme obstacle course though.

She's no stranger to stepping outside of her comfort zone.

An outspoken advocate for child protection organisation Bravehearts, Larrissa was sexually abused by an extended family member between the ages of five and 16.

She courageously told her story to a national television audience during an appearance on The Project in 2015.

Come Monday, Larrissa will again appear on Australian television screens, for a completely different reason.

But the 24-year-old's support for Bravehearts and drive to help prevent child sexual abuse will shine through again.

You'll see Larrissa proudly wearing a shirt bearing the Bravehearts logo and a clear message - Protect Kids.

No matter how she does on the night, her passion can't be faulted.

"I'd never watched a whole series ... I'd seen little snippets on Facebook, but I'd never really followed the show," Larrissa said.

"Before the auditions I hadn't actually done any physical activity for like four months. During the audition I was terrified, basically laughing my way through the whole thing.

"I thought 'this is ridiculous, I'm so not prepared for this'. When I got the phone call that I was in, it all became very real. I just thought it was so cool."

Larrissa was lucky she "trained hard for so long", which enabled her to retain the majority of her strength.

"But I wasn't confident in it. Still, I pulled it off," she laughed.

Making the show's audition tape has proved one of the toughest parts of the experience for Melbourne resident Larrissa, who recruited her mum Leonie Miller to help out.

Once that was done and dusted, Larrissa's training started in earnest.

"I went back to the gymnastics gym and I found an obstacle course place ... I started doing some stuff there and really just having fun with it," she said.

"I was used to doing the same thing each and every day, so it was really cool to step into a different environment. And I was terrified ... everything was so new. I was so scared."

Thankfully though, Larrissa's fellow competitors have been a supportive and friendly bunch, spurring each other on.

"Whenever someone came back from running the course ... we were like high-fiving each other. The vibe was amazing," she said.

Larrissa described competing in Australian Ninja Warrior as coming at "perfect timing after Rio (Olympics)".

It allowed her to focus on a totally unique form of competition, unbridled by Olympic expectations.

"I didn't have expectations of myself either, I just knew I wanted to enjoy it," she said.

Meanwhile, Larrissa's family in the Moranbah area, including dad David Miller and three older siblings, can't wait to watch her grace living rooms across the nation.

Aside from competing in Australian Ninja Warrior, she still hopes to make the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

She also works with elite gymnasts aged between 6 and 9 years old.

Catch Larrissa Miller in Australian Ninja Warrior on Nine on Monday, July 10, from 7.30pm.

Topics:  australian ninja warrior channel nine entertainment gymnastics larrissa miller mackay moranbah television whatson


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