Maddie Davidson – Inspirational, Resilient, Hard-working, Role Model

“When you’re competing you think, ‘why do I do this?’ But you get such a buzz from it. Nothing else from it gives you that feeling like getting off a trampoline and finishing your routine. It’s a huge part of my life.” [3]

DAVIDSON Madaline – FIG Athlete Profile (gymnastics.sport)

Maddie Davidson is a New Zealander who made history by becoming the first female trampolinist selected to represent New Zealand at the Olympics [1]. Maddie is 22 years old, born on the 8th of January 1999 in Ōtautahi Christchurch, New Zealand  [2]. She started trampolining at the age of seven and first represented New Zealand at age twelve, and she has not stopped since! When asked why she began trampolining, Maddie says, “When you’re competing you think, ‘why do I do this?’ But you get such a buzz from it. Nothing else from it gives you that feeling like getting off a trampoline and finishing your routine. It’s a huge part of my life.” [3] Maddie trains as a full-time athlete at Olympia Gymnastics Sports with Alex Nilov, her coach.

Along with being a full-time athlete, Maddie coaches at Flips and Tumbles. She says, “Trampolining has provided me with some of the most amazing opportunities, so I started coaching as a way to give back to the sport that has given me so much.” Coaching soon became a passion of Maddie’s, and it is something she enjoys every day [4].

Maddie (center) trampolining as a child – Photo provided by Maddie

Career Highlight- World Age Trampoline Championships

Maddie has many outstanding achievements, but the 2017 World Age Trampoline Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, made her renowned in her field. At this meet, she won two major awards: a bronze medal in the synchro event with her partner Kate Nicholson and a silver in the individual category [5]. Maddie said, “This was my fourth World Age Group competition. I actually got my previous best result here at the same Stadium in 2013 when I placed 16th in the 13-14 year age group.” In the World Age Competition, Maddie was the first New Zealander in over 30 years who medalled in the 17 – 21 age category. She was also the first Kiwi to win two medals in over 20 years.

Previous to this, Maddie’s career highlight was winning the gold at the 2016 Indo Pacific Championships in both individual and synchro. Maddie had some advice for other athletes, “If you really love it go hard. Work hard and you can achieve anything.” [6] . To date, the 2017 World Age Trampoline Championships is Maddie’s career highlight, and she said, “I would have to say the 2017 World Championships: I won two medals there and it was the turning point in my career that proved to myself that I could make the Olympics.” [7]

Maddie Davidson (left) pictured with teammate Kate Nicholson at the World Trampolining Championships in Bulgaria – Photo provided by Maddie Davidson

Olympic Qualification

The competition that qualified Maddie for Tokyo was the Aere World Cup in Brescia, Italy. Qualification for Olympic trampolining uses a ranking points system. Points are awarded over a two year period at specific competitions. When Maddie was going into this last qualifying event, she was sitting within the top 16 spots. However, there were three close rivals there too. After the Aere World Cup, Maddie moved up into the 12th position, securing a spot in Tokyo. Maddie said, “I was over the moon when I realized we had secured the quota spot. It is a real honour to compete for your country, and if I get the chance, being the first female at the Olympics will be something I’ll take a lot of pride in.” [8] .

Qualifying for the Olympics and being the first female trampolinist to represent team NZ was not something Maddie was ever expecting would happen. She said, “To be the first person to do something is a really special title. We worked so hard for five years to make the team, so when it happened, it was indescribable, one of the best moments of my life” [9].  

Roadblocks and Growth

Maddie focuses on psychological power and strength, saying it is more important than physical strength. Maddie said that “If you’re not strong in your brain, in how you feel on the trampoline, then it’s not the right sport for you. You’ve got to be able to step over that fear of making mistakes, falling off, or landing on your head, which happens sometimes.” [10] . She also talks a lot about the importance of a good mindset. A good mindset is something all athletes have regardless of their sport, size, colour, race. Maddie said, “I truly think the psychological outweighs the physical in my sport.

Having a resilient mindset was particularly helpful in 2020, with the Olympics postponed. “I was sitting outside just scrolling through Facebook when I found out the Olympics had been postponed,” she says. “I just started bawling my eyes out. I was so close to going, I could almost touch it – and then it was so far away. It was almost like I couldn’t see it anymore.” Lockdown was tough on Maddie. Fitness-wise, she was the same but had lost a lot of spatial awareness on the trampoline, and as no competitions were going on the rest of the year, she was able to improve and learn new, more complex tricks. “There is always a risk of injury when learning new skills,” Maddie explains. “But I managed to pick up four new skills last year. That type of growth doesn’t happen normally. It ended up being a good thing.” Before this, Maddie had mastered an advanced trick called the Triffus- a triple somersault with a half twist. Over lockdown, she had mastered the Half Triffus; female trampolinists do not commonly perform this skill. “I saw the boys doing the Half Triffus and thought, if the boys can do it, I can do it. It’s been really cool to add it into my repertoire,” Maddie announced [11].

When asked what messages she has for younger trampolinists who look up to her, Maddie says, “consistency is everything, it really is about showing up each day and trying everything you can to make those small gains. But, also make sure that you love what you do, because hard work is that bit easier if you are really passionate.” [12]

Tokyo and Beyond

Arriving in Tokyo was an unbelievable and fantastic feeling for all the athletes. Everything Maddie had trained for was finally happening. She had her individual qualifier on the 30th of July, and she was excited to show the world what she had. Maddie finished the competition placing tenth, an astonishing result for a first-time athlete! [13] Having the Olympics delayed by a whole year and competing at long last was such a relief and proud moment for Maddie. When asked about her future plans, Maddie says, “My current plan is to go for two more Olympic cycles, so until the 2028 Games. I’ll be 29 at that point, so we will be able to reevaluate whether we will go again after that. For the sport, I’m hoping that more girls will stick with trampolining or start getting into the sport. At the moment, it’s a male-dominated sport, so I hope more girls see that it is possible to push through to that next level.” [14] .  

Maddie Davidson is one of New Zealand’s most successful female athletes, being the first woman to represent Aotearoa New Zealand in trampolining at an Olympic level. The 2017 World Age Trampoline Championships proved that she could make it, and she has. Maddie focuses greatly on emotional resilience; this value has been beneficial over the past year. Maddie is such a powerful and inspirational woman that everyone in Aotearoa can and should look up to! There are many more notable achievements and moments to come for Maddie.


Published: March 24th, 2022

Last modified: March 24th, 2022

Cite as: Marina Antinova, ‘Maddie Davidson – Inspirational, Resilient, Hard-working, Role Model’, Womens History of New Zealand, edited by Nicole Johnston, Last modified March 2022, https://atomic-temporary-193744190.wpcomstaging.com/maddie-davidson-inspirational-resilient-hard-working-role-model/