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 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, 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 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 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.

Maximising The Ambassador For Glasgow

One year to go for a great Glasgow sporting party!

It comes as little surprise to discover the charismatic Max Whitlock MBE has been named as an official ambassador for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

The announcement was made at a special ‘One Year To Go’ celebration event at the SEC, in front of the exuberant sporting media. And just to make for an even better photo opportunity, he was joined by the new face of Glasgow 2018, namely Bonnie the seal.

Great anticipation is already building, as the Championships put this vibrant cultural city very much in the spotlight. It will also combine the existing European Championships for Aquatics, Cycling, Gymnastics, Rowing and Triathlon along with a new Golf team championships, across 84 sessions of amazing sporting action. It is of course, the biggest sporting event to be held in Scotland since the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Something 24-year-old Max remembers well as he explained to the media: “The Commonwealth Games and World Championships are some of the best memories that I’ve had in gymnastics competitions, and some of the best results that I can look back and be really proud of. I’m really excited about Glasgow 2018 – it is always great to compete at a multi-sport event and I have always loved it here in Glasgow. The crowd is always amazing and give you that extra lift. It can make such a difference to your performance out there on the podium.”

Most Successful Gymnast In History

Max has good reason to look back with such fondness having lifted Commonwealth and World Championship gold medals in Glasgow’s wonderful Hydro Arena. In fact, he is a five-time Olympic medalist, winning two golds and three bronzes, and a five-time world medalist on the same apparatus with one gold and four silvers. He became Britain’s first ever gold medalist in artistic gymnastics winning both the men’s floor and pommel horse exercises at the 2016 Summer Olympics. With 10 and three titles in Olympic and world championships, Whitlock is the most successful gymnast in his nation’s history.

As for the venue itself, The SSE Hydro is a multi-purpose indoor arena located within the Scottish Event Campus in the city. The arena was initially named The Hydro after its main sponsor, energy company Scottish & Southern Energy subsidiary Scottish Hydro. The arena was designed by the London-based architects Foster + Partners and officially opened on 30 September 2013. During the 2014 Commonwealth Games the SSE Hydro was home to the netball and gymnastic events. From October 23 to November 1, 2015 the SSE Hydro hosted the Artistic gymnastics world championships. There’s little doubt it’s now one of the world’s leading sports venues, with an electric atmosphere to match. More than 3,000 athletes will discover the whole Glasgow magic for themselves next year of course.

Max added: “I witnessed that first-hand during the 2014 Commonwealth Games and again at the World Championships the following year. So I have no doubt that Glasgow 2018 will be a huge success. I’d just urge fans to get their tickets quickly to avoid disappointment.”

An Event Glasgow Will Never Forget

Set to be one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, Glasgow can certainly look forward to an event the city will never forget. Everyone involved can rest assured the Championships are in good hands thanks one of gymnastics most likeable role models. For the newly married Mr Whitlock MBE, it’s a case of maximising the Ambassador for Glasgow.


Gymnastics Making A Home In Liverpool

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Record breaking crowds visit Liverpool for the British Gymnastics Championship Series.

The Echo Arena Liverpool is fast becoming one of Europe’s top gymnastics venues following record breaking crowds at the British Gymnastics Championship Series.

More than 5,000 spectators across the four days were thrilled by some very impressive multiple disciplined performances. These included rhythmic, Teamgym, acrobatics, aerobics and the Great Britain Teamgym challenge. An amazing 99 clubs were represented with more than 1500 gymnasts actively taking part in the event.

Even before the weekend was in full swing, a special Gala had been enjoyed by more than 1,000 people on the Friday evening. This celebration of the sport saw 12 clubs performing to the theme of ‘Our Sport: Our World’. Those present witnessed and enjoyed what you might call inquisitive routines and performances away from the norm. A number of individual themes were encompassed including love, social media and travel, leaving everyone enthralled.

A Special Appearance

Star gymnasts Ellie Downie and Claudia Fragapane made a special appearance offering support to the gymnasts. They also spent time signing autographs and talking to some of the spectators. Claudia took part herself at the end of the evening with colleagues from her club Bristol Hawks. And to the delight of the crowd, introduced some moves from Strictly Come Dancing to add panache and extra style to the proceedings.

The sport has never been so popular or as charismatic, with an exciting new generation of gymnasts starting to emerge. It also displayed the strength of gymnastics clubs up and down the country. It should also be remembered 15 Senior Champions were also crowned throughout the series.

But the event also gave fans the chance to get much closer to World Games Gold Medalists including Charlie Tate, Lewis Watts, Adam Upcott and Conor Sawenko, all part of the men’s four from Spelthorne. They even spoke to a fascinated audience about their experiences along the way. But there was so much more to enjoy for both competitors and spectators alike which can only be good for the sport as a whole.

Colourful stalls were scattered around the arena both representing gymnastic links and offering some quality souvenirs. Both Gymshop and Quatro proved extremely popular. And for those who wanted  a little taste of competition themselves, there was the opportunity of taking part in sprints, hula hoop contests and burpees. In fact, possible visitor involvement was emerging at every turn during the weekend.

A Warm Welcome

The famous Merseyside welcome is a big pulling point at the Liverpool Arena, along with the amenities. This was the third year of the Championship series with ticket sales being the best yet. Making sport accessible for all is obviously of paramount importance to the team at Echo Arena.

The venue features accessible toilets and  entrances, as well as accessible drop off points and seating bays. Customers will find lifts in the car park featuring a mirror to make reversing out in a wheelchair easier, along with both visual and audible floor indicators. Parking is not free for Blue Badge holders, but there are 81 disabled spaces available in the adjacent Liverpool Waterfront Car Park. There’s also a convenient drop-off point on the river side of the building.

Interest in the next big event here, the Trampoline, Tumbling and DMT British Championships is already very positive. Once again the venue is expected to be a great place to be from the 23rd to the 24th of September. It seems obvious Liverpool is becoming  a firm favourite with competitors and gymnastics fans from across the UK.

Acrobatic Gymnastics: Walker And Williams Winning Wonderfully in Wroclaw

Walker And Williams Winning Wonderfully in Wroclaw

The wonderful World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, saw the acrobatic gymnastics of both Lewis Walker and Kitty Williams lift a brilliant bronze medal. In this most specialist skill, the charismatic mixed pairing performed superbly to make the podium, landing just behind Russia and Belarus.

Getting to the final was an achievement in itself given the standard of competition. But then the dynamic duo scored an impressive 28.810 points impressing both spectators and judges along the way.

Lewis said: “It feels amazing, it’s our first major championships as a pair and we just wanted to do all our hard work and commitment justice. We feel like we’ve gone out there and shown everyone what we can do and how amazing our sport is so we’re both very proud.”

Acrobatic Gymnastics Draws The Crowds

Understandably this can be a nerve-racking experience at the best of times, but being first to compete in qualifying in front of a sizeable crowd in the amazing Centennial Hall, can’t have been easy. Lewis went on to say: “We were very focused in qualifying on making sure both our routines were clean,” added 16-year-old Kitty. In the final, there was no pressure or expectation, once we completed our first balance move I think we knew it was going well.”

Just to make matters a little tenser, the pair then had to sit out quite a long wait as the trampoline competition got under way. They completed their balance routine scoring 28.170 giving them a total of 55.350, and a clear margin over the USA to qualify 4th and make the final.

Overcoming Adversity To Become World Champion

Kitty’s proudest moment was becoming age-group World Champion 2016 in China, and she loves her discipline. Soaring through the air is a great feeling for the Croydon based athlete who loves being part of a team.

But she admits to having really bad eyesight and having to wear contact lenses when she trains and competes. This in itself is proof to all youngsters, you can overcome any minor problems if you really want too. Mind you, both athletes have four-hour training sessions each day, not only to perfect routines, but to aid conditioning.

The discipline needed to become successful in this dynamic area is huge.

Poland’s Biggest Sporting Event

More than 3,000 athletes, from 31 sports and 111 countries, were taking part in the biggest sporting event ever staged in Poland. This fantastic extravaganza is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. Founded in 1981 and very much the ‘Olympics for non-Olympic sport’, they provide a gateway to Olympic inclusion.

Acrobatic gymnastics is the competitive field where partnerships of gymnasts work together and perform figures consisting of acrobatic moves, dance and tumbling, set to music. There are three types of performances; a ‘balance’ routine where the focus is on strength, poise and flexibility. A ‘dynamic’ routine including throwing, somersaults and catches, and a ‘combined’ routine including elements from both balance and dynamic gymnastics.

It’s governed and regulated by the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG). At international level, there are four FIG categories of competition defined by age; 11-16, 12-18, 13-19, and 15+ (Senior).

The fascinating thing about this discipline is in each partnership, the gymnasts’ different sizes and abilities will be balanced to complement each other in order to undertake the complex moves. Some will mainly carry out supporting and pitching roles, known as bases, they are then balanced with smaller gymnasts who become the ‘tops’.

There’s not much doubt both Lewis Walker and Kitty Williams are both tops when it comes to representing Great Britain.

Gymnastics Academy Coach Helen Reddy Wins Double Award

Gymnastics Academy Coach Helen Reddy Wins Double Award

Helen Reddy from Ivybridge Community College has been named as  Devon Sports Coach of the Year and received The Outstanding Contribution Award at a recent awards ceremony. Known to many as a ‘super woman teacher’, she’s managed to create not just a forward thinking gymnastics academy, but also the most successful school gymnastics team in the UK.

If ever there was a superb example of how to get youngsters more involved in this exciting sport, this was it. Having built up and run the Ivybridge Gymnastics Academy at ICC, Helen has supervised a squad that has won more national titles than any other UK school in the past two years.

Devon gymnastics Are In Very Good Hands

To add to her teaching and Academy commitments, this incredibly hard working, high-performance coach also uses her expertise at nearby Honiton Gymnastics Club. As a former national gymnast of some repute, and now a level five British coach, she’s vastly experienced in the sport.

And now she’s using all the knowledge accrued across more than 30 years to help the next generation of gymnasts.

Helen has constructed a sustainable coaching structure enabling students to take their first steps as young gymnastic leaders. The innovative scheme has been endorsed by British Gymnastics, selecting Ivybridge Community College as one of only a handful of apprentice hubs in the UK.

Recognition Of Her Commitment

The Outstanding Contribution award was selected by judges from people short-listed in all categories. It recognises an individual or organisation that has gone above and beyond the call of duty to develop sport in the county.

Sandy Park, home of Exeter Chiefs rugby club, provided the venue for the ceremony, in the presence of the guest speaker and Olympic gold medal rower James Cracknell. The aim was to celebrate the best of community sport in Devon.

Helen said: “I honestly didn’t think I was in with a chance, so I was stunned when they read out my name. It’s a real honour to be welcomed to collect an award in front of so many of your peers, so when they announced the second award I was even more astounded.

A Gymnastics Academy 15 Years In The Making

Helen began her PE teaching career at ICC in 2002 and has held the role of Head of Year, Director of Sport and Head of Performing arts. She began building gymnastics at the school by focusing on starting young boys’ gymnastics. It was a case of slowly moving forward into other areas before the Academy took shape.

This amazing lady is responsible for the development of more than 300 students at primary and secondary level, and she even comes up with the ideas and directs the performing art show at the college, involving 500 pupils. She believes this link is important, as such mass participation can help identify those who have a real gymnastic talent.

The overall aim isn’t about finding an elite gymnast, but encouraging pupils of all abilities to at least attend one of the extra-curricular clubs for a short while. And to top it all, Helen also organises the UK’s biggest annual acrobatic development competition in Honiton every year.

Recent achievements have included coaching and choreographing routines for British champion teams at junior and senior levels. Helen added: “I’m surrounded by a team of dedicated coaches, helpers and supporters who make it possible for me to put successful procedures in place. I couldn’t do any of this without their continued support.”

The award organisers, as well as those around her, see this passionate coach as someone who really does make a difference to young people in terms of helping offer valuable life skills. And who knows, she could be bringing on the next star gymnast.

Liz Slater, leisure partnership manager at Plymouth City Council who nominated Helen for the awards, said: “In my 25 years of involvement in Devon sport rarely have I witnessed a teacher and coach who has such a high level of passion, enthusiasm and a will to make a difference to young people.”

The Devon Sports 20th Anniversary Awards were organised by Active Devon in Association with The Exeter Foundation and Exeter College.

Team Gym At The British Gymnastics Championship Series 2017

Team Gym At The British Gymnastics Championship Series 2017

The Liverpool Echo Arena will be packed to the rafters at the end of this month enjoying an amazing four days of the 2017 British Gymnastics Championship Series. ‘Team Gym’ is the name of the game, amid fervent support from friends, family and spectators.

It’s a genuinely exciting concept where the action just keeps coming, as the teams battle it out in some pretty incredible disciplines. The Floor event will see between six and twelve gymnasts performing to instrumental music on a non-sprung area of 14 and 18 metres.

Team Gym Presents The Fabulous and Charismatic

Involving both men and women, each member of the team must take part in the fabulous floor programme using expressive presentation in a number of gymnastic elements. You’ll see charismatic choreography, meticulous in its planning and using linked movements, synchronisation and excellent teamwork.

Each routine should have two pirouettes, two balance-power elements, two jumps-leaps and one combination of two elements. Female teams are asked to include body waves, while the men should incorporate swing-type movement, lifts or throws.

Promoting Whole Body Gymnastics

The idea is to involve whole body gymnastics in the process, and it’s simply great to watch. With apparatus in mind, The Trampet sees the teams performing their best somersaults, with a section of individual programmes incorporating the vault table.

There are three different rounds with six gymnasts in each, but in the first round, everyone must perform the same element with a controlled landing all important. You’ll see lots of twisting double somersaults, quite dramatic in their execution.

Tumbling Teams Take Their Turns

For those who love their tumbles, this is the competition for you as Teams perform a tumbling series on a 15-metre track with what they call good ‘streaming’ – consecutive tumbles quite close to each other.

The result is a fast, exciting and dynamic section of the competition. As you might expect the evenness of the streaming is crucial. There are three rounds in this section all performed to music.

In every series, there must be three differing acrobatic elements. Again, all members of the team must perform the same series for the first round. This gets particularly interesting because you may be allowed between 6 and 12 gymnasts on the floor at one time – but you only need to put six forward for each tumble pass.

The mixed teams must include three boys and three girls. Here, the judge will be looking out for a really good flow to the tumbles and a perfect finish on the landing area. The gymnasts aren’t expected to stand still at the end of their run but must show control as they move out the way for the next tumbler.

All in all, it makes for an enthralling competition, highly recommended for those who have never been to a big gymnastics event.

So remember – from 27 – 30 July you will be treated to an incredible feast of gymnastics with multiple disciplines and age groups uniting under one roof competing for prestigious British titles.

Here’s the event schedule:

Thursday 27 and Friday 28 July – Aerobic Gymnastics British Championships.

Friday 28, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July – Rhythmic Gymnastics and Acrobatic Gymnastics British Championships. Sharing the floor over three days.

Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July – TeamGym British Championships and GB Gym for Life Challenge

Friday 28 July – British Gymnastics Gala Evening