Courageous national gymnastics champ Josh collects more than $10k from recycling

A twelve-year-old Josh Thompson performs his pommel routine during the 2021 Australian Gymnastics Championships in the Level 7 U/13 division. Photo: WinkiPoP Media.

FROM wounded warrior to national gymnastics champion in the space of five months – that is the remarkable transformation for fourteen-year-old Pindimar resident Josh Thompson.

Sidelined with a L4-L5 back injury for the entire 2022 season, the elite gymnast wasted no time in recapturing his form when he returned to full training in January earlier this year.

When the talented Thompson was crowned the Level 9 Under 15 Australian champion after superb performances on all six apparatus at the recent Australian Gymnastics Championships at the Gold Coast Sports & Leisure Centre it was a fitting reward for his determination and will to succeed.

Josh also picked up a silver medal in the National Level 7 Under 13 Division in 2021 after COVID lockdowns.

His proud mother Jade Teelow told News Of The Area, “Josh epitomises courage and discipline and earned his national title through sheer hard work.”

Josh gained a position at the Gymnastics NSW High Performance Centre in Sydney when he was just eight, two and a half hours travel from his home in Pindimar, and is also part of the Junior International squad.

But the costs added up and Jade and Josh were inspired to look at ways to raise some extra money.

To help cover his travel costs for training and competing, Josh chose to participate in the Return and Earn container deposit scheme where he has raised more than $10,000 through container returns.

His interest in recycling stems from his father Adrian’s work in the scrap metal recycling industry.

Jade said Return and Earn appealed to them because it was something hands on that Josh could be part of and manage from the start to finish.

Josh began depositing bottles and cans with Return and Earn in 2020.

A ten cent refund per container may not sound like too much, but from the beginning his motto was, “If you look after the cents, the dollars will look after themselves.”

“His record in one return trip was just over $1,300, and he now averages $800 each return every six to eight weeks,” said Jade.

“We are so very lucky to live in a small supportive community, it didn’t take long for people and businesses to join in collecting cans and bottles for Josh.”

The teen gymnast is home educated and the fundraising has also been a way for him to access additional learning opportunities.

“I like the life skills Return and Earn has given Josh, like financial literacy, effective communication and business skills,” said Jade.

“But we both like how easy it is and the positive impact it has on the environment.”

Josh has grown up in the Port Stephens and Tea Gardens area and was introduced to gymnastics at the age of five.

He is also a part of the Hunter Sports Centre Mens Training program where he continues to hone his skills in the Parallel Bars, High Bars, vault, rings, pommel and floor apparatus.

Josh shows a maturity that far belies his years.

At the National titles he competed as an individual against accomplished gymnasts aged from fifteen to eighteen years and mastered his Level 9 skill difficulty to claim gold.

He dreams of representing Australia one day on the world stage.

Jade added that she has been thrilled to see how Return and Earn has changed people’s attitudes to litter.

“Kids are almost pushing each other over to pick up that can or bottle on the ground now instead of turning a blind eye to it,” she said.”

By Chris KARAS

Josh deposits bottles and cans with Return and Earn.

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