Meet Werribee’s very own tai chi champion.

Rita Sullivan is aglow from the success of her performances at the recent Wushu, Tai Chi, and Qigong Australia Festival at Monash University in Clayton, where she won a gold medal for her fan routine and a silver medal for her flute routine in the seniors advanced category.

It’s the third consecutive year the 56-year-old has competed in the national competition.

“I’d been practising for quite a while – I teach tai chi at a lot of local community centres around Werribee and Hoppers Crossing – and I do competitions for the challenge,” she said.

Ms Sullivan admits she gets “very nervous” in the lead-up to competitions, but finds it a good way to improve her technique.

“I’ve never been a competitive person,” she said.

“That’s the big thing, controlling the nerves – I find that, on the day, it’s very hard to give your best.

“I can only imagine how Olympians must feel. Often, it’s not your best performance, but you have to overcome all those nerves.”

Ms Sullivan took her first tai chi class more than eight years ago when she and her husband were looking for a joint activity that would help them de-stress.

A few years later, she gave up her full-time job as an accountant and started teaching tai chi part-time.

“There’s good health benefits,” she said.

“It’s de-stressing, it’s energising … it also makes you really relaxed and helps your fitness level.

“A lot of people can’t jog or do [other forms of exercise], but any age level can get into this.”