Rachael Gunn
Rachael Gunn is intent on changing the perception of breaking ahead of the sport's Olympic debut. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS
  • sport

Gunn sets eyes on breaking opinions with Paris 2024

Belad Al-karkhey June 26, 2024

Dancing doctor Rachael Gunn never thought breaking would be an Olympic sport, let alone that she’d be representing Australia at the 2024 Games.

With 30 days to go before Paris is overrun with athletes and fanatics alike, the Sydneysider reckons she still has to pinch herself sometimes from the excitement.

It’s a unique opportunity to tell people about the type of street dance that bewildered many when it first listed as a sport, the 36-year-old said on Wednesday.

Gunn, known as ‘Raygun’, will be joined by 16-year-old prodigy Jeff ‘J Attack’ Dunne, who is one of the youngest Australians headed to France.

The pair will be among 16 men and 16 women breakers from around the world to compete as the inaugural breakdancers in the Olympics, introduced as a new sport for the Games after it featured at the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018.

Gunn has taken the role seriously of educating people about breaking, with a PhD in cultural studies wedged in her back-pocket.

“At best, they know nothing. At worst, it’s a joke,” she said at an Asics’ Lace Up Australia event marking the final month before the Paris Games.

“So many doors have been closed just because people don’t know what breaking is, or they don’t think that it’s a serious athletic or artistic endeavour.”

The sport’s surprising inclusion in the Olympics looks likely to be a one-off, much to Gunn’s dismay, after it was snubbed from the Los Angeles 2028 program.

While most athletes know what they’re facing when they land on the global stage, all bets are off for Gunn, who won’t know what music she’ll dance to until she competes.

“It’s pretty intense. I’m in the studio or the gym pretty much every day,” she said.

Practising combos and specific moves, Gunn’s focus is on making sure her routine is clean and sharp. 

“I’m making sure I’m going out there as prepared as possible for whatever can happen,” she said.

“I’m calm, I’m collected, and I’m going out there to have fun, because then sometimes the best stuff comes out.”

Selected as one of Australia’s inaugural breakdancing Olympic athletes in February, the 36-year-old won the Oceania Breaking Championships alongside Dunne in 2023, which secured them each a berth at the 2024 Olympics.

Gunn is is no stranger to the stage.

She ranked as the top b-girl by the Australian Breaking Association in 2020 and 2021, and represented Australia at the World Breaking Championships in Paris in 2021, in Seoul in 2022, and in Leuven (Belgium) in 2023.