WHEN Owen Gilbert was a boy of 10 his mother said he should try a sport, and she suggested trampolining.
"Why not?" he said.
It was love at first bounce.
Now Gilbert, a big lad of 20, has been chosen to captain the NSW trampolining team at the Australian Gymnastics Championships.
There have been a few things in between, like the following performances to put on the CV: Indo Pacific Championships 2012; silver medallist in the men's 17+ double-mini; bronze medallist in the 17+ individual; bronze in the men's 17+ synchronised trampoline; 2012 club nationals: silver in level 9-10 men's trampoline and bronze in level 9-10 men's double-mini; 2012 nationals; bronze in senior men's double-mini; fourth in the senior men's syncro.
"I went to Russia in 2009," said the boy from Warragamba.
Gilbert started trampolining at Penrith gymnasiums but "they both closed down".
Now he trains at Ingleburn several times a week and "every day" at home.
There is the mandatory trampoline in the backyard where the injunction "don't try this at home" doesn't apply.
He tries lots of things at home beyond the scope of the average bounce-and-giggle backyard boys and girls, big and small.
And he dreams of bouncing to even bigger heights, like world titles and the Olympics, to which trampolining was introduced in 2000.
Can he reach them?
"He's quite talented," said his coach at Ingleburn Youth Club, Norm Hanselmann, a grandfather and a former trampolinist himself.
"He's got big goals but it all takes time."
Gilbert and the coach spend their time devising routines, and there's another factor that sets Gilbert apart.
He may be an elite performer but he excels in a pastime that isn't high-profile and doesn't pay its elite performers: he's an apprentice mechanical engineer — so in that sense is "building" a sporting career from the ground up.