World Championship Gymnastics

A quick round up on those who were the standout performers on Canadian soil...

World Gymnastics Championship

 

As this year’s World Gymnastics Championships come to a close in Montreal there are many Brits who performed well and won Medals on the other side of the pond.

Men from Team GB;

The returning Max Whitlock (Pommel-Horse) was one of the main talking points when he became the first British gymnast to retain a Gold medal on Saturday. It also leaves Whitlock as Team GB’s most decorated athlete on this stage, with six Gold medals.

Courtney Tulloch (Rings), was hoping to make GB Gymnastics history by winning a World Ring’s final – unfortunately, he could only manage an eighth-placed finish.

Eight months after snapping his ankle ligaments, Nile Wilson returned to the elite level of competition in Montreal. He may not have managed to reach the podium this time around, with a sixth-place finish, but his return alone will be enough to encourage the 21-year-old that there is definitely more to come.

Despite it being his first competitive outing, Wilson admitted to holding back in qualifiers, before going all out for it in the later rounds. It is a testament to his talent though that he still managed to finish the competition just over 1 point short of a podium finish, and the All-Round winner, China’s Xiao Routeng.

Women from Team GB;

Olympic, Floor Bronze medallist Amy Tinkler, looked in good form only seven weeks after having had surgery. But the 17-year-old was unable to maintain the form that saw her through the final, producing a low score. Overall, she ended 13th, which despite being worse than was expected from her qualifying score means that her world ranking has jumped ten places since 2015 (where she placed 23rd).

Another member of Team GB who made history was 19-year-old, Claudia Fragapane, who won the Bronze medal in the floor event. The four-time Commonwealth Gold winner is the first British woman to win an individual Gold medal since 2010.

There were some worrying moments for Fragapane, however, when she dropped marks for a few untidy landings. Luckily, she had the composure to get back on track and finish under half a point behind the winner.

16-year-olds Kinsella and Fenton both gave confident displays in their senior World Championships debuts. Alice Kinsella, 16, had earlier pulled out of the All-Around final after hurting her ankle in qualifying.

Looking further afield it has been confirmed the Birmingham Arena will host the British leg of the 2018 World Cup in March. The World Cup consists of four competitions with the United States and Germany also hosting legs before the finale in Japan.

It’s brilliant to see that a portion of the Gymnastics World Cup will be featured on our own shores, and with that in mind, it’s a brilliant time for our Gymnastics clubs across the country.

If you’ve got a Gymnastics club and are expecting some more members pre/during/post-British leg of the World Cup next year, make sure you have a look at the ways our Gymnastics Club Manager software can help you.

We can provide you with a much easier and quicker way to manage the admin side to your club leaving you with much more free time – and no hassle – even if you do have an expected rise in numbers. Furthermore, if your club is under 2,000 members, you can sign up for Gymnastics Club Manager for free!

All of those boring admin tasks will be a thing of the past. If you don’t believe us, you can trial the software now, all you need to do is get in contact.

If you are interested to find out more about how we can help your Gymnastics club, book a free consultation here, or get in touch by giving us a call on +44 (0)1892 771 276.

Gymnastics Coach – Talent Transfer

Transferring talent – it isn’t poaching talent, promises professional gymnastics coach and consultant Nick Ruddock.

Gymnastics Coach

 

Nick Ruddock, our resident International Gymnastics Coach, wants to strengthen the link between clubs and their coaches and offer solutions to coaches who need support and mentoring for athletes. Perhaps they feel themselves out of their depth. They have someone who is elite.

If you’re training someone and you don’t think you can give them what they need, should you transfer them to an environment where they will flourish? Yes.

Any true gymnastics coach who is athlete-centered will want to do everything they can to ensure the athlete reaches their full potential – even if that means they do it away from you. It’s still natural to worry about the repercussions on your career and how this makes you look as a coach.

As coaches, we have many opportunities, while this young athlete might only have one. This applies particularly to young gymnasts who have a very short window of opportunity to show their competence. This is a huge responsibility – coaches hold the keys to people’s futures.

That future might include medals – but it’s also about travel, teamwork, life experience, goals, self-belief, opportunity and much more. Can you as a coach justify not letting this happen?

Many things might run through a coach’s mind, preventing him or her from picking up the phone to a club that can offer more for an athlete.

What will the other parents/athletes think? I’d miss this person. How can I progress as a coach? What if my gymnast makes the national squad and I miss out on out being part of that?

Nick urges coaches to become better at collaborating between clubs and supporting one another. Athlete transitions should incentivise coaches with high-performance coach education support and mentoring programmes.

Take these two scenarios:

The current situation
Sarah coaches nine-year-old Millie. The child has won her first national level competition and shows tremendous potential for the future. She’s Sarah’s first national champion, but Sarah doesn’t have a track record of previous results at this level or above. She has no mentor, personal development plan or experiential learning to help her achieve better results in the future.

Sarah keeps trying, working hard to keep Millie at a high level for her age. In time, though, lack of preparation and poor habits exceed her potential. By the age of 11, Millie starts to plateau. Her performance declines. She doesn’t reach her performance potential.

Sarah hasn’t developed much as a coach either. The same will happen the next time an athlete of Millie’s calibre comes along. And the time after that. And the next time too.

A better solution?
Sarah recognises that Millie is an extraordinary gymnast. Sarah also has the self-awareness to know that as a gymnastics coach, she isn’t yet good enough to help Millie reach her potential. Following consultation with Millie’s parents, she contacts some of the high-performance clubs to ask if Millie can transfer there.

The new club has an education and mentorship programme, which incentivises Sarah to transfer Millie. Sarah gets regular ‘coaching’ from the gymnastics coaches in this club, she gets to watch her prodigy train (and helps too) and receives one to one mentoring designed to improve her own coaching skills.

The next time an athlete as good as Millie walks into Sarah’s club, she has the expertise and support to coach them competently.

Scenario two is the best of both worlds. It gives both coach and athlete a better shot of fulfilling their potential, as they are supported and coached by experienced people. It takes humility and vulnerability to admit that you aren’t the right gymnastics coach for an athlete, but both are essential qualities for the very best gymnastics coaches.

It will be forward-thinking clubs that will be the first to adopt such mentoring and coaching programmes. They will incentivise and provide support for club coaches who want to ‘up their game’ and do the best they can for the athletes they coach. Are there coaches out there who have the self-awareness and vulnerability to facilitate such a move?

As a club, you might think it would be easier to employ another coach who does have the experience to ensure an athlete can reach their potential on the home turf. A great solution – but only if the club has the money and there is a good enough coach who is nearby/can relocate. The organisation’s leadership and current coaches also need to be happy to accept a new gymnastics coach, who might well be ‘above’ them. Can the collective coaching ego take it? This isn’t really an easy solution at all.

An incentive programme, on the other hand, could have an incredible impact on the national and international results. And think what it would do to the lives of those athletes who get to achieve their real potential.

There IS an abundance of talent out there – the problem isn’t finding it, it’s nurturing it and ensuring it is in the right place.

Nick Ruddock is a coach, consultant, clinician and speaker. He has been the junior national coach for British Gymnastics, and his GBR junior team made history in 2014 with the first ever junior team medal at the European Championships. He formed Nick Ruddock Gymnastics in 2015 and has consulted for more than a dozen international gymnastics federations including Australia, Germany, Japan and Switzerland, and provided services to professional sports teams such as Manchester United and Manchester City Football Clubs. You can connect with Nick through his Facebook page or email him at nick@nickruddock.com

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Dancing To Gymnastics Glory

Claudia Fragapane is strictly focussed

Strictly speaking, Claudia Fragapane can demonstrate quite a few eye-catching moves to rival the flexibility of the GymnasticsClubManager.com software.

But as we all know now, of course, this effervescent lady can also produce an impressive turn of foot on the dance floor. In doing so, she’s also proved dancing can seriously help improve gymnastic capabilities, and the whole television experience is making a difference to her own athletic preparations. She said “After Rio, being on Strictly helped me with different dancing techniques which is why I wanted to do the show. It was nice to have a bit of a break and have that time off and to do something different. I loved it and I do feel much fresher now having a bit of a rest. I think my past experiences and strictly have helped me feel less nervous, I don’t feel as much pressure as I know I can do my routines, I just need to perform.”

Claudia of course, came to prominence at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, becoming the first English woman to win four artistic gold medals since 1930. The 19-year-old from Bristol, also helped the British women’s gymnastics team win its first-ever team medal, a bronze, at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

The athlete teamed up with A.J. Pritchard in the last series of Strictly, and can be very pleased with reaching the semi-finals before finishing in 4th place overall. Her performances kept the weekly audiences engrossed and did much to promote the sport. Aged 18 at the time, Fragapane was the second youngest celebrity ever to take part.

There’s little doubt the series itself is very competitive, something Claudia is well used to. But sometimes, taking a step or two back and doing something slightly different can really help freshen up the approach to training. It’s naturally easy to be slightly less committed having achieved a goal like Rio, but her dance journey has succeeded in creating a fresh drive as we all look to Tokyo. She explained: “At Europeans back in April, I was really happy with my performance overall. Qualification went well and then when it came to the floor final I stepped out of the area on my double Arabian, so I was a little bit disappointed because I could have medalled there and maybe even clinched gold.”

Claudia then decided to have a short holiday in Portugal simply to chill out and try and build herself back up. Floor fitness isn’t easy to attain, as it involves so much stamina work. She was working hard on her flexibility, and it was important to take a closer look at her floor routine. As the former baby of the British team, she’s picked up so much from the people around her adding: “We decided to change my tumbles around to make it harder for myself, which seems odd but I was just too bouncy! Therefore, we made my double Arabian the third tumble in my routine and the double straight the second.” Claudia recently took part in the World Cup Challenge held in Paris, being reasonably happy with her overall performance.

The whole team then moved on to the Lilleshall National Sports Centre for a full week’s training ahead of leaving for Canada. She said: “It’s great to have the camps before we go, as we get that team bond and we do miss each other when we are away. We are always texting each other to see what everyone is up to. For the worlds, we have been putting a lot of work into not just doing the routines but doing them well. I know I can do them but I want to get good execution too.”

In terms of both her gymnastics exploits and those memorable routines on the dance-floor, it would have to be a 10 from Len.

 

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

What is a self-fulfilling prophecy and how does it affect coaching?

Professional gymnastics coach and consultant Nick Ruddock has plenty of experience of self-fulfilling prophecies and their limitations. If you tell someone something often enough, they might just end up believing it. True.

As someone who regularly travels the UK and the world teaching, coaching and consulting, coaches often introduce athletes to Nick in a certain way – ‘This is Ella, she’s nine years old, and she has the worst legs in the world’. Or, ‘This is Caitlin, and she’s the one I told you about who can’t jump’. Another alternative might be ‘Meet Sarah, she doesn’t like to straighten her legs at all’.

URGH. Talk about naming athletes by their poorer qualities. And what the heck are such statements doing to their self-belief and esteem?

How often must a coach repeat such statements – the ‘worst legs’, the ‘can’t jump’ – until the gymnast or athlete starts to believe it’s true? I have the worst legs in the world. I can’t jump. I can’t straighten my legs. What might also happen is that the gymnast or athlete will choose to become powerless to those weaker qualities, and develop a mindset that is fixed – instead of a growth mindset.

Is there anything at all to be gained from a nine-year-old believing that her legs aren’t designed to jump? (Clue – it’s the opposite of ‘yes’.)

When you coach, you will be aware of everyone’s weaknesses. But as a coach, it is your job to frame them properly in the mindset of your young athletes. This isn’t just about sporting performance. It covers life skills too.

Nick’s up front that he’s been guilty of this in the past too. Years ago, he’d worked with a fantastic athlete – a very talented girl, who did everything else at a snail’s pace. She went to the bathroom, moved between apparatus, fetched her equipment and read her programmes super slowly.

He took to calling her ‘Sloth’ – and now wonders if that made her even slower and if she carried that belief into her adult life.

It’s incredibly easy to influence young athletes, and coaches play a crucial role in forming their unconscious and conscious thought patterns and beliefs. These will become embedded in their behaviours and habits as they go through life. The mind hears much more than we think – and it stores all that information for later use.

You should use this opportunity to reflect on the ‘stories’ you have told your athletes. And what have you heard about yourself that has defined your current thoughts, behaviours and habits?

A good place to start is to make sure you introduce your athletes by focusing on their better qualities such as hard work. Let’s take nine-year-old Ella. Next time, present her this way:

“Meet Ella – she’s working on her superhuman legs that will one day let her do a Yurchenko double twist.”

Can you imagine how magically that will work on her self-esteem and beliefs?

One final point… We want to make sure you can devote as much time as possible to your athletes, and not waste time on activities such as club administration. If you use GymnasticsClubManager, for instance, this membership software tool will do all the hard work for you, saving you time, increasing membership numbers and engagement. Why not contact us today on help@paysubsonline.com or book a demo to find out more?

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Nick Ruddock contributed to historic medal winning performances on the international stage throughout his four-year term with British Gymnastics as National Coach. A former personal coach to Amy Tinkler; European, World and Olympic Medallist, Nick has been mentored by some of the world’s most experienced and accomplished coaches throughout several influential countries.

Nick has lectured as a Technical Expert for the UEG (Union of European Gymnastics) for 7 years, and has consulted for over a dozen international gymnastics federations and a variety of performance sports, with a mission of optimizing athlete and coach performance for the world stage.

For more information on Nick’s services, including online courses, conferences, events and coaching programmes, visit www.nickruddock.com

 

Historic Olympic Announcement

Sends Paris and Los Angeles wild with delight

It’s true to say Tokyo is very much on every athlete’s mind given this new cycle is already a long way down the road.

Gymnasticsclubmanager.com has already chronicled many of the British stars who will be shining in the east. But following the IOC’s recent historic announcement, plans are also being put in place for the next decade and beyond. A special session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)in Lima, Peru, revealed a double allocation for the first time ever.

It meant both Paris, in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028 will host the next two Olympiads. It is of course, an exciting time for both major cities, and very much welcomed by IOC President Thomas Bach who said: “Congratulations to Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028! This historic double allocation is a ‘win-win-win’ situation for the city of Paris, the city of Los Angeles and the IOC. It is hard to imagine something better. Ensuring the stability of the Olympic Games for the athletes of the world for the next 11 years is something extraordinary.”

If the joy shared by the Olympic movement was clear, you can image the scenes in both future venues? Paris of course, is one of the world’s great sporting cities, and one of the most dramatic backdrops any athlete could wish to have for such a major event. Mayor Anne Hidaglo told the media: “Today I am delighted to invite you to join the great family of Parisians, a family which belongs to the world. With this team, I am very proud and moved to bring the Games back to Paris. At the heart of these Games, we will place young people, who represent our present, our hope and our pride.” A few thousand miles away in sunny California, the Parisian counterpart Eric Garcetti added: “Bringing the Olympics back home to LA gives us the chance to imagine what our city will look like a decade from now,” said Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles. “LA is a city where the Games are not a barrier to making progress; we know that they are an accelerating force to re-envisioning a better city and a better world in the days ahead as we welcome you back to the City of Angels.”

This of course will be the third time the Olympics will have made a base in LA. The last time was in 1984 when U.S. President Ronald Reagan, officially opened the Games.  The official mascot of the Los Angeles Games was Sam the Olympic Eagle with the event logo featuring five blue, white and red stars arranged horizontally and struck through with alternating streaks, and named ‘Stars in Motion’. These were the first Summer Olympic Games under the IOC presidency of Juan Antonio Samar. Paris has previously acted as host in both 1900 and 1924.

Working Together

What particularly appealed to the organisers was the fact both cities intend to use a number of existing and temporary facilities. With the blessing of the 130th IOC Session that met in Lausanne in July, the IOC, Los Angeles, Paris and their National Olympic Committees have been working together in order to reach the agreement ratified by the IOC. The idea of a double allocation at the Olympics is nothing new, though a working group was eventually set up to look at the possibilities for both 2024 and 2028. This tripartite agreement has worked incredibly well, meaning both cities can start planning ahead. And knowing where the follow on Olympics will be held could also have hold benefits for both current and future competing athletes. Its an everybody comes out on top situation – and a double celebration for both Europe and America.

Conquering Europe is An Art

Britain in great gymnastic shape

The world of artistic gymnastics has taken centre stage recently with a number of events held across Europe.

With World Championship selection imminent, it was so vital for our athletes to perform well. Fans certainly weren’t disappointed as the home grown stars landed medals as valuable as the GymnasticsClubManager software, and equally as life-changing. For starters, Amy Tinkler from South Durham managed to qualify for all four finals at the World Challenge Cup in Hungary. The Olympic bronze medalist also demonstrated an impressive new routine with a fine performance of it to match. Both spectators and judges were suitably impressed in a closely contested  floor final as Amy scored 13.500. The 2015 All Round British Champion picked up the bronze, and the future continues to look bright for the popular North East athlete. Welsh gymnast Latalia Bevan also impressed on her senior début for Great Britain.

London Open Event

Back in Blighty GymnasticsClubManager.com was delighted to see riveting displays of agility from stars Max Whitlock MBE and Nile Wilson at the London Open event. The first winner of five gold medals at the European Junior Gymnastics Championships, Yorkshire born Nile claimed the highly-sought all round title with a score of 84.900. One of the highlights of a great all round performance saw his work on the high bar earn a superb total of 14.850 points. The effervescent Max cruised to a gold medal on the Senior Apparatus, to mark a wonderful return to  competitive action. Earning 15.150 points on the pommel, facilitated a great demonstration of his art. The five time world medallist from Hemel Hempstead fully deserved the plaudits of the crowd. But there was so much more to come from James Hall, who took the floor title with a score of 14.700 points, and also the all important parallel bars with a total of 14.650 marks. And the good news just kept on coming as Birmingham’s Joe Fraser weighed in with top spot on the vault amassing 14.600 points. Then there was master of the rings, Courtney Tulloch from Lewisham, who lifted the all round title with a score of 81.737, in fine style. He was followed by both Jake Harman from Huntingdon Gymnastics Club, who scored 79.469 points, and Euan Cox from Kent scoring 75.835 points. London seemed to be one big celebration of the best in artistic gymnastics which only bodes well for the future of the sport.

Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships

And there was a very exciting event taking place in The Netherlands, involving many more of Europe’s finest athletes. This was an invitational event accepted by Charlie Fellows based in Crewe, Alice Kinsella who represented Great Britain at the 2016 European Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Bern, and west country favourite Phoebe Turner. All three ladies are charismatic in their own right, so the spectators were offered a real treat watching each one of their excellent performances. It was Alice who came out on top of the all round rankings with a score of 51.550. Always a delight to watch in action, Charlie earned 50.800 points with Phoebe landing a satisfying eighth place having scored 47.550, just to show how close winning margins can be at this level. Given all of this, GymnasticsClubManager.com can report Great Britain as being in rude health when it comes to our artistic gymnasts.

Valley’s Gymnastics Academy Choose Gymnastics Club Manager

When it comes to inclusive gymnastics there’s something very special going on in Wales. In fact, look closer and you’ll discover the sport is strong and flexible thanks to the brilliant work of Valley’s Gymnastics Academy. Their forward thinking approach is winning friends of all ages and from all walks of life. And it’s something those nice people at GymnasticsClubManager.com are proud to be associated with.

In fact, their software is playing a huge role in bringing in new members as Head Coach Aled Jones explains: “With a couple of busy venues and a number of membership categories, it was so important we got the admin right when it came to registering people, organising fees and running our database efficiently. The software provided by Gymnasticsclubmanager.com has literally cut the time spent on this in half in just a couple of months. The great thing is it’s so easy to use and actually does a lot of the work for you. In the past, we used things like excel spreadsheets to try and organise everything. But of course this meant duplicating things, and with the best will in the world, mistakes sometimes happened. This wonderful software really has simplified everything, leaving our team more time to manage other areas of the club. And yes, it can result in more members coming through the doors. In truth, I’d thoroughly recommend this to any other club out there as a first class 21st century admin tool. Making use of the product has been one of the best decisions we have ever made.”

Aled should know of course, spending half his time working on the admin side and the rest coaching. He enjoys both, but there’s no prizes for guessing the coaching side gives him a real kick. He added: “It’s great working with the gymnasts as no two people are the same, and everyone needs a different form of support and encouragement. For us, it’s not just about the competitive athletes or potential Olympic medals, but every single person who takes up this amazing sport. I think it’s true to say gymnastics workouts can also provide the perfect foundation for any other sport, in terms of building up core strength, flexibility and muscular movement.”

This is where Valley’s carefully orchestrated ethos comes to the fore. Within the gymnastics family, there are a number of disciplines including recreational, women’s artistic, men’s artistic, rhythmic and many others. All are taught at VGA. From pre-school through to categories for the disabled, the team here have thought of everything. And you’re never too old to start of course, though for children it can give them the key to a healthy, balanced and disciplined life.

VGA believes youngsters love jumping, rolling, turning, twisting and swinging around. Why not put them in an environment where it is allowed, instead of your lounge?  “They can learn all about body control, balance and co-ordination,” says Aled. They have excellent facilities at Crumlin including all manner of equipment, an impressive track, trampoline, foam pits and so much more. It’s expanding all the time, and Aled recommends people thinking of joining a club take a look. But they also have a superb Go Gym at the Cwmbran Stadium, kitted out for a range of classes. It’s a terrific place for everyone to enjoy their recreation, providing a happy and safe environment for gymnasts of all abilities. There’s a hard working team too numerous to mention, but one glance at the club’s colourful website will tell you all you need to know. Little wonder this award winning club is the pride of Wales. “We’d like to keep pushing up the bar”, Aled explained.

We live in an age when all sorts of devices and distractions can take youngsters in particular away from any sort of sporting activity. By opening up so many alternatives at the club, we can at least offer an introduction to something that will offer their lives a happy and healthy balance.” Having gone to university at Cardiff, Aled loves mingling with people from a range of backgrounds. For him and the staff here it really is all about people. Any future medals are secondary, but a huge bonus. It seems, just like the Gymnastics Club Manager software, Valley’s Gymnastics has succeeded in changing lives for the better.

Putting the bounce into Britain

Great Britain can be truly proud of Nathan Bailey who stormed his way to a priceless Silver medal in what was a world class field.

His magnificent performance at the FIG Trampoline World Cup in Minsk pushed the eventual Gold medal winner all the way. He scored a very impressive 59.165 in the final to claim second place, though in truth the Bournemouth athlete was narrowly beaten by the current Olympic Champion.

Uladzislau Hancharou, from Belarus managed a total of 60.755, finishing in from by the slimmest of margins. Considering his focus was on his brand new routines with no great expectations, the end result was simply superb. This was his first international event  since the 2016 Rio Olympics, and a chance to take notes in terms of the other gymnasts. Qualifying with good marks was his first goal, achieved without too many problems. But the biggest challenge of course, was yet to come in the next group stage.

This was where things started to get a little more serious, and with great concentration and efficiency Nathan continued where he’d left off. He landed sixth position, which was more than good enough to book a place in the final. Naturally, with everything clearly going according to plan, he started to get a little excited as he explained: “Walking into the arena for the final I could feel the adrenaline pumping. I was geared up and ready to cease the opportunity to compete my final routine of the day, I did just that and it felt amazing. Walking back to the athlete area after the routine, Great Britain coach Tracy Whittaker-Smith said ‘That was a nice one Nathan, very well done’ – I was just so chuffed to have had the opportunity to compete my new routine again and that it had gone well.”

All Eyes On The Scoreboard!

All eyes were on the scoreboard and when Nathan’s came up it was clear this was a strong total. There were still five others to go when he moved into first place, and as each competitor took their turn, the realisation dawned a medal had been guaranteed.

He added: “I started to get handshakes from the other competitors with congratulating comments. Last up was the reigning Olympic Champion Uladzislau Hancharou who put down a cracking routine which then went into the lead – that meant the two Belarusian gymnasts were placed first and third and as you can imagine, the home-crowd were ecstatic, as was I to come home from Belarus with a silver” There could be little doubt Nathan’s careful preparation and the design of a new routine had finally paid dividends. He’s been working in secret and extremely hard to perfect the routine. But the news just got better, as he also made it to the synchronized final with the talented Luke Strong by his side.

The British boys recorded a healthy fifth place to set the seal on another successful event. Taking things on an individual basis, Luke managed 31st place in qualifying, still an excellent performance given the quality of the field. It’s also important to note Kat Driscoll’s first competitive event since Rio, saw record a placing of 29th.

All three gymnasts now turn their attentions to the 2017 trampoline, tumbling and double mini-trampoline British Championships taking place at Echo Arena, September 23-24th. It’s great to see both Nathan and all our gymnasts putting the bounce into Britain.

A Northern Irish Inspiration

It’s never too late to succeed in Gymnastics.

A 44-year-old dentist from Northern Ireland has proved it’s never too late to succeed in the sport of gymnastics. Giving real hope to those who have kept themselves reasonably fit, and feel they’d like to have that successful competition feeling. Ursula Goode had been attending the Sika club in Coleraine one night a week simply to keep her fitness levels up. The Mother of four saw gymnastics as a hobby, until an eagle eyed coach encouraged her to take everything more seriously.

Ursula, who runs a dental surgery in Coleraine with husband Ben, a triathlete, was then urged by Mary Robinson to enter the British Championships. She said: “I had done recreational gymnastics for a few years in my teens but I never competed at any real level because I had entered into the sport too late. However, when I thought about what Mary said about the British championships, I eventually decided to go for it, though winning medals was never really on my mind.”

Intensive Training

Mary introduced a very intensive training programme and Ursula began to work incredibly hard, and her techniques began to improve and she did start to feel much fitter. She increased the sessions from one to five nights each week as the championships drew closer.

Ursula was a bit worried about the vault section of the routine and wasn’t completely confident with her handspring. Arriving at Lilleshall she was naturally a little apprehensive as the competition began. She was faced with the vault, beams, floor and bars, but once things got underway Ursula just went for it. She added: “I remember telling myself on the run-up that I had to do this well because I would probably never get the chance again. Mary was standing next to the vault just in case something went wrong but in the end I didn’t need her. I didn’t fall off.” This was probably the most testing five hours for her, and even as the time passed the thought of winning never entered her head. It was to be another two and a half hours before things began to happen, but Ursula was happy she’d met the challenge and had really achieved something. She takes up the story: “We were marched into the stadium to hear the results. And after the names of the winners of the silver and bronze medals were read out, I thought ‘oh well, at least I gave it my best shot.’ I knew I hadn’t let myself down.”

The Results Are In

Next came the stuff dreams are made of as the announcer got to the climax of the results. Out came her name as the gold medal winner, and she was left absolutely stunned and understandably emotional. Still pinching herself on the podium British Olympian Bryony Page, who won a silver trampoline medal in Rio last year, presented her with the all important medal. Ursula couldn’t wait to telephone her children Oliver (7), Grace (9), Beth (12) and Lily (14), to tell them their mum was a British Champion.

Ursula was adjudged the best competitor in the over-40s novice section at the championships at the National Sports Centre near Birmingham, the home of British gymnastics. She recently had the opportunity to show her gold medal to Matt Baker, the presenter of the BBC’s One Show during the programme’s visit to Portrush.

As for progress, how about preparing to return to Lilleshall next year to compete in the intermediate level of the British championships? The answer of course has been a resounding yes.

A Special Moment In Le Marche

Laura Halford looking to have a ball in Pesaro

British all round rhythmic gymnastic champion Laura Halford is carrying high hopes heading for the 35th World Championships.


Laura from Wiltshire, is a four times senior British Champion, and two times Junior British Champion. She represented Wales at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She won her first British title at just 10-years-old, and now the Cardiff University student is working out at Llanelli Academy, having left Swindon’s Esprit gym to make it easier for her to train with the national team.

Busy year for Laura

It’s been a busy year so far for Laura having competed at both the Sofia World Cup, and World Challenge Cup in Portimao. She represented the individual seniors for Great Britain at the 2017 European Championships, alongside team-mate Stephani Sherlock. And more was to come in Mexico at the World Challenge Cup Guadalajara, finishing in the top 32 yet again. But she reclaimed the National title at the 2017 British Championships in fine style. This in itself was the perfect boost with Italy in mind as Laura explained: “It was a good confidence boost, especially heading into this competition. My training has been going well and I have just been going over my routines in training every day, each apparatus, just to run through them all. I’m so thankful for everything Deb (Hows, Esprit’s head coach) did for me but it was quite difficult when she was Swindon and my other coach was in Cardiff, having to relay information back and forth.”

Laura is looking toward the Commonwealth Games in Queensland, and this event will certainly measure where this talented athlete stands in terms of overall performance. She added: “this is the competition where all the main competitors who will be at the Commonwealth Games next year are attending. It will be nice to see where I am in comparison and where I could be next year.” This will be Laura’s third appearance in the World Championships, attracting the sternest opposition in four days of competition. It all began with the individual hoop and ball qualifications and finals, followed by the individual club and ribbon qualifying and final. September 1st saw the individual all-around final with the group events taking place on the 2nd and 3rd.

The first edition of the World Championships was held in 1963, when this engrossing sport was known as modern gymnastics. The current program of the World Championships reflects both individual and group performances. In even non-Olympic years and the year before the Olympics, a team event is also contested. Both the individual rope and free hands are not competed at the World Championships any more. Winning a medal for the UK here really is a fantastic achievement, with the Russians  leading the list of all time gold medal winners.

Laura said: “I think I won’t have much longer left in the sport, which is crazy because I still feel really young. In 2014 at the Commonwealth Games I peaked well there so hopefully I’ll peak again next year because that’s my main aim at the moment. In gymnastics it’s easy to get injured so it’s just about how long my body can last! But I’m just going to keep going while I enjoy it. Pessaryyy is a town and commune in the Italian region of the Marche, capital of the Pesaro e Urbino province, on the Adriatic.

‘City of Bicycle’

This lovely place is generally known as ‘City of Bicycle’, thanks to its big net of bicycle paths – but it’s all about the rhythm for some very exclusive athletes, for  a few days at least.