British Team Named for Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha

Artistic Gymnastics World Championships

The 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships Set for Lift Off

A star-studded women’s and men’s teams have been selected to represent Great Britain at the forthcoming 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha. In truth, they are all household names, ready to do us proud in Qatar from October 25th to the 3rd of November.

Hands Across the Sea

This sparkling event will feature more than 700 male and female gymnasts from across 80 countries over 10 days of enthralling competition. And standards, as you might expect, will be extremely high as we get ever nearer to Tokyo 2020. In fact, for many, this offers a great opportunity for early Olympic selection involving supreme tests of ability in the all-around, individual apparatus and team events. The competition has never been greater, all adding up to what should be the best Championships yet.

Ladies Leading the Way

For our ladies, the championships will see both Ellie and Becky Downie returning from injury, though both are now fit, fully prepared, and ready to go. They are in every sense, a very welcome boost given their expertise and experience.

Ellie was the first gymnast to win a major All-Around title for Great Britain of course, and her sister Becky is a double European and Commonwealth Games champion on the uneven bars. The prides of Nottingham will be looking for a strong performance in Doha, along with the popular Georgia-Mae Fenton from East London.

Georgia is the current Uneven Bars Commonwealth Games Champion who also competed at the recent European Championships in Glasgow.

Alice Kinsella from the Park Wrekin club was another team member who did well in Scotland, along with Kelly Simm from Dynamo, Southampton.

Britain’s Motivated Men

As for the men, our hopes remain just as high with a team containing names we are all familiar with at the high-end of competition.

Max Whitlock MBE is a five-time Olympic medallist and an ambassador for the sport. He’s also in the form of his life and sure to excel in such a dramatic arena. Max will be joined by the very talented Joe Fraser from The City of Birmingham club, who is no stranger to performing under pressure.

Dom Cunningham, also from Birmingham, won Individual Floor Gold at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow and looks set to add to his impressive collection of medals.

And how about Olympic Bronze medallist Nile Wilson? He was also a member of the Silver-Medal winning British team at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Nile became the first British gymnast ever to win five Gold Medals at the European Junior Gymnastics Championships.

That leaves us with James Hall – a member of the British Senior team since 2014, who has also won All-Around Bronze in the European Artistic Gymnastic Championships, as well as a Team Gold and an individual All-Around Silver in the Commonwealth Games.

Building Toward Tokyo

James Thomas, British Gymnastics Performance Director said: “The Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha represent the start of the qualification process for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Building on from the European Championships and with a number of gymnasts returning from injury, we had several world-class gymnasts pushing for team selection through the recent competition trials. The selected team for Doha gives us the opportunity to make a positive start to our Olympic qualification campaign, going head-to-head with the world’s best in the team competition and pushing for medals on key apparatus.”

An Amazing Arena

The action will take place in the superb surroundings of the world’s largest multi-purpose dome, able to host 13 different sporting events in a climate-controlled area. There’s even a full-size quality football pitch and the facilities are some of the best on the planet.

Interestingly, the time difference is just one hour so following the event through the media won’t be a problem. They know how to put on a show in Qatar, and the Aspire Academy is certain to bring out the very best in our athletes.

On Top of the World

In recent years, countries like Russia, Romania and The United States have dominated the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships – but given British Gymnastics has never been so strong, this could be the year when our men and women steal the headlines.

Let’s hope our teams can enjoy that ‘on top of the world’ feeling.

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Britain’s Junior Boys Shine in Germany

Gymnastics Competition

Some of Britain’s top junior boys returned home from competition in Germany recently wearing a sweet glow of success. UK sporting achievement is always very welcome especially when it involves emerging talent, and when glory is earned internationally it certainly adds to that winning feeling. It’s also another pointer to just how strong gymnastics is becoming across our clubs and academies.

The Cottbus Wohnen Junior Trophy provided some enthralling competition with plenty of excitement and high drama to match. In fact, six of our best junior boys made the trip with medals very much in mind. Such was their dominance they not only took the overall title but also finished more than 30 marks ahead of their hosts securing lavish praise along the way.

Grouping Together

Age ranges are very important at this stage of a gymnast’s career, and in this particular event, there were three involving under 13, 15 and 17-year-olds. Each group saw some outstanding personal performances from the British team of Oakley Banks and Sam Mostowfi from the vibrant Pegasus club, Danny Crouch based at South Essex, Jack Stanley, a favourite at Leeds, Remell Robinson-Bailey from the Earls club and Korben Fellows from the ever popular City of Birmingham.

13 Is A Lucky Number

Everyone at Pegasus was thrilled to see the effervescent Oakley Banks lift the all-around champion Bronx crown in fine style. His absorbing routines impressed the judges greatly as they awarded him a total of 74.500 marks. Looking closer, this versatile young athlete made five apparatus finals collecting a score of 13.150 on the floor – more than enough to claim Gold. Consistency was key, as he also ran up a score of 12.450 on the vault, to claim another leading medal. It was in every sense a dynamic effort as part of a hard-working team.

The 2019 Gymnastics British Championships

Britain's Best in Liverpool

Gymnastics British Championships

Liverpool can certainly be an enlightening place at any time of the year with the love of its people creating such a warm and wonderful atmosphere. It’s little wonder then that gymnasts from across the UK, and the world, love coming to this special city.

There is in fact, a buzz already resonating across clubs up and down the land with next Spring in mind. And the reason for this? The 2019 Gymnastics British Championships, complete with total spectator participation and thrilling action, looks set to ignite the banks of the Mersey once again.

Great Sporting Arena

The Echo Liverpool Arena, of course, is home to many of gymnastics’ great competitions, and there’s little doubt that athletes love performing in this amazing venue.

Set on a World Heritage waterfront in a city steeped in sport, the 11,000 capacity arena attracts visitors from all over the world. Getting a terrific view of the action isn’t a problem with excellent facilities available for everyone including wheelchair and ambulant disabled. Its brilliant layout makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all ages. You’ll get a fantastic welcome.

The Olympic Cycle

As the Olympic cycle moves on at a brisk pace, these championships will provide a telling pointer as to where our athletes are in terms of both preparation and possibilities. Tokyo 2020 will certainly be looming on the horizon by then, adding extra spice to the proceedings.

In our athletes’ preparation schedule, the Gymnastics British Championships will be crucial to their future success. The gap between long-term success and failure can be minimal, as is the way with the sport at the top level.

The Youth Olympics – Buenos Aires

Youth Olympic Games

It’s all eyes on Argentina next month as The Youth Olympic Games ignites 32 exciting sports across 17 thrilling days of action in bubbling Buenos Aires. And, of course, gymnastics will play a leading role in what promises to be a magnificent multi-sport experience for just under 4,000 of the world’s best young athletes across 206 nations.

Third Edition Coming Up

This will be the third edition of the games following the success of both Singapore in 2010 and Nanjing in 2014. History will also be made in terms of gender equality, as this will be the first Olympic event to host the same number of male and female competitors.

To be eligible to participate the birth date of male athletes must have fallen between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2002. Female athletes must have been born between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2003. Those athletes who have participated in FIG senior competitions or multi-sport games won’t be able to participate in the Youth Olympic Games

The Venue

The main events will take place at the Parque Polideportivo Roca, an extensive park with excellent facilities. And, of course, the gymnastics spectacle will involve artistic, trampoline, acrobatic and rhythmic competitors. As ever, it will be fascinating to see who will come through ready perhaps to shine on the Tokyo 2020 stage.

Mahdi Choudhury, Team GB’s Chef de Mission for Buenos Aires 2018 said: “Buenos Aires 2018 will offer a fantastic opportunity for our team to experience a multi-sport event for the first time and I’m sure it will act as a great springboard for their own senior Olympic dreams. Youth Olympic Games such as Buenos Aires offer the chance for young athletes to experience life in an Olympic Village, mix with competitors from different sports and nationalities, and are given the chance to grow as individuals as well as athletes. These events have helped shape the careers of Team GB Olympic stars such as Jade Jones and Tom Daley and we hope the same will be said for this group of young stars.”

The Games, involving athletes aged between 14 and 18-years-of-age will run from the 6th to the 18th of October

Tokyo 2020 – Gymnastics Predictions

Tokyo 2020

Halfway through the Olympic cycle the training is relentless and extremely disciplined for Tokyo 2020. It needs to be, of course, as the competition for Gold medals has never been higher. The slightest lapse in concentration, slip or error can be costly when it comes to the world’s highest level. Gymnastics wise, Team GB have a number of established stars who could certainly continue their valuable medal collection in fine style. But as with any other Olympics, some new names will emerge to capture both the hearts of everyone in the sport and some Gold medals of their own.

So, who might we need to look out for with Tokyo 2020 just two years away?

An Easy Place to Start

Dom Cunningham dazzled the judges at the recent European Championships, on his way to a superb Floor Gold. The 23-year-old artistic gymnast from Birmingham was able to add to his Commonwealth Games Team Gold of 2014, and Vault Bronze at this year’s games. Bishop Challoners own star has already laid the foundations for Olympic success, and there’s no reason why he can’t go on from here, to crown what has been an excellent year and career to date.

The Ring of Success

Those Olympic rings may be legendary, but for Courtney Tulloch they represent something much more than that. Based at the Pegasus Club, Courtney is already Commonwealth Games Champion on rings and a Silver Medallist on vault. He also has a couple of moves named after himself.

The 21-year-old is the perfect example of mental rigour having just missed out on a plane ride to Rio two years ago. Undaunted, he didn’t succumb to disappointment and now looks to become a gold medallist in Tokyo, having worked really hard in the interim.

British Gymnastics Apprenticeship Programme

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Imagine working in a job that really doesn’t feel like a job at all – a real labour of love allowing you to make a huge difference to people’s lives. And, we all know, of course, how doing something we love feels. Transform this into making a living and it takes on a whole new meaning.

The good news is, for anyone looking for a career in gymnastics, applications are now open for the visionary 2018/19 British Gymnastics Apprenticeship Programme.

The Low-Down

Even if you have no desire to be a coach, clubs up and down the land are looking for versatile managers and support staff.

The programme is looking for motivated individuals willing to learn all aspects of the gymnastics infrastructure. All the while, developing high-quality coaching and club operations. Those chosen will get first class ongoing support. And the goal, of course, is a full-time career in sport, the chance to meet some fascinating people and to enjoy the rewards of being in such a stimulating environment.

There’s much more to any gymnastics club than the coaching and work-out side of things as any manager will tell you. A number of club operations are necessary to keep things moving efficiently, and it’s very true to say every role is an important one.

Gymnastics World Cup 2018 – World Cup Wonders

Birmingham to become gymnastics heaven next Spring

Gymnastics World Cup

A host of elite gymnasts from the best-ranked nations in the world will be heading to Birmingham next March as part of the 2018 Gymnastics World Cup event. Not only is this putting England’s second city firmly on the gymnastics map, it’s also set to renew electric rivalries from Rio 2016. The Olympic stars will be shining brightly, as fans settle down for a feast of enthralling springtime drama and entertainment.

A Showcase for Brilliance

The Arena Birmingham will become the perfect ostensory to display the incredible talents of some truly gifted athletes from this exciting sport. All teams from Russia, Japan, Germany, USA, Brazil, The Netherlands and China will be lining up against Great Britain in the women’s event, with Ukraine joining up against the men. On both March 21st and 22nd new landmarks will be set as reputations are further enhanced. The gymnasts chosen from each country will be announced early in the new year – keep your eyes peeled!

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.


Eddie Van Hoof: Calm, Compassionate, Considered

Eddie Van Hoof

When Eddie Van Hoof competed on the international stage in the 1980’s the idea that Britain would one day be a major player on the world gymnastics stage would have been met with derision.

Fast forward to 2017 and Britain’s Head National Coach has helped oversee a programme that is the envy of the world. His achievements have been recognised with an MBE and by a series of accolades, culminating in being named UK Coach of the Year across all sports for 2016.

So what factors have contributed to Van Hoof being named the best coach in the UK and is there anything we can learn from his career?

Absolutely. His journey from competitor to coach is a familiar one for many. The keys to his success are an understanding of the need to be calm, compassionate and considered.

Eddie in competition

As a competitor in the ‘80s Van Hoof faced the full might of the Eastern Bloc machine. The Soviets – backed by a well-funded state programme – had a stranglehold on the medals. He readily admits that he was realistic in never aspiring to break the Soviet stranglehold. He was a steady, solid performer. So instead, he focused on ‘providing stability and working for the team rather than for myself’. In effect Van Hoof was the perfect team player – a quality which has shaped his progression ever since.  

Eddie’s gymnastic career reached its peak at the 1984 Olympics. The boycott by the Soviets and East Germans may have provided a glimmer of hope for medals but at the time the Brits were to all intents and purposes third rate. While the Americans, Japanese and Chinese stepped up and filled the available medal places and gained the confidence to stay there, Eddie and his teammates were still also-rans.

What struck Van Hoof about the LA Games was their commercialism and professionalism. Los Angeles was the first Games to rely almost entirely on sponsorship and the Americans succeeded in building a buzz around the event which has continued ever since. It also brought home the need to build a programme aimed at success, that funding is vital and continuity matters.

Continuity and confidence

Making the transition from gymnast to coach brought its own challenges – including being accepted and recognised as an equal by his peers. But like so many club coaches, Eddie Van Hoof’s gymnastic career had brought him in to contact with the pressures of high-level competition. He may not have been the best himself but he understood what makes the best, the best.

In the years between 1985 and 2004 he witnessed many successes, the highlight Neil Thomas’ unprecedented medals at European and World level in the 1990’s. But he admits without London 2012 none of the current success would have happened.  The nadir was losing funding in 2004 following the shock of failing to qualify a single gymnast for the Athens Olympics.

But London was the spark that ignited the fire. And for every club or training programme at whatever level there needs to be a spark. The belief that what you are striving to achieve will happen.

And so since becoming national coach in 2005 and leading Britain’s Men’s Artistic Programme he has signed up wholeheartedly to the ethos of continuity. Britain had little success at junior level but now we boast five consecutive European junior golds in the men’s team and a conveyor belt of talent in the likes of Wilson and Whitlock. They are now the inspiration for the next generation.

British Gymnastics Head Coach

Cool, calm, compassionate

Very much in the mould of Max Whitlock, Eddie Van Hoof is not one to wear his heart on his sleeve. He definitely doesn’t adhere to the Bela Karolyi school of support. There are few fist pumps and no histrionics. Instead Van Hoof exhibits a calm, confident, collected outward persona that mirrors his competitive goal of providing stability and support for the team.

It’s important to him because – irrespective of whether they win or lose – the gymnasts have a constant to rely on. A calm point of reference when all around them there is noise and action. It helps brings them confidence in their own abilities and reminds them to focus on what they are there to do – the modern mantra of ‘executing their routine’, delivering what they do day in and day out in training.

But underneath he is just as human as the rest of us. Above all understanding what drives his athletes and the impact that success and failure brings.

He points to Brinn Bevan’s leg-break two weeks after winning World silver in 2015 as one moment when he let the mask slip and ‘I cried after Tokyo 2011’ the championship when the team failed to qualify automatically for the 2012 Olympic Games.’ But those were private tears.

A journey

In the 1980’s Britain’s best trained in what would now be considered sub-standard conditions – in a very basic Victorian drill hall. Now they benefit from millions of pounds in funding and the finest facilities. Eddie revelled in the atmosphere of those Spartan surroundings but he recognises the constant need to build and innovate and spot the opportunity to improve.

It’s been a journey – one which many coaches will recognise and aspire to in their own very personal way. It’s one which is fraught with difficulties and long hours but in the end it is worth it for the personal and team successes you achieve along the way. Whether that’s bringing gymnastics to a new audience or a smile to the faces of youngsters who achieve novice success or the ultimate achievement of an Olympic gold – each brings it owns rewards.

And the heartening thing about Eddie Van Hoof is that he is already counting down the days to Tokyo. The journey continues.

Are you inspired by Eddie Van Hoof’s journey? See more of his story in his own words here.