Paul Hall MBE – A Hall of Fame

The new Head National Coach for Men's British Gymnastics.

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Britain’s New Head Coach

He has a big mantle to carry but Paul Hall MBE can shine as brightly as the sun itself in his new role as British Gymnastics Men’s Head National Coach. If that famous old rugby union commentator Bill McLaren had been passing judgement, he’d have surely said: “They’ll be dancing on the streets of Huntingdon tonight.” For Paul has been a leading light at the town’s excellent Gymnastics Club since 2003. He has lectured for the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) across the globe and was awarded an MBE for services to the sport six years ago. He is in essence, a highly respected and regarded gymnastics figure with the feel of the sport very much at his heart.

The Driving Force Within

This likeable man will be practising what he’s preached over the years, having guided Louis Smith MBE to Olympic medal success at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and then Rio four years later.

But it doesn’t end there as his expertise steered Daniel Keatings to a historic world all-around Silver in 2009. In fact, his CV reads like a successful novel, with great reading at every page turn. Two Olympic Games, eight European and five World Championships, and a host of much smaller but telling achievements.

You see, Paul Hall isn’t just about medal winners – he’s also about grassroots and those club members who simply enjoy keeping themselves fit and healthy. This is why he is, without doubt, the right and inspiring choice moving forward.

British Gymnastics is changing in a positive fashion, and given the increasing profile of the sport, any head coach needs to be dynamic and understanding in their approach. You don’t have to win an Olympic medal to furnish a personal success of course. Mind you, men’s gymnastics teams around the world will have been making a note of the competition as Tokyo gets ever nearer.

Increased Television Coverage for Gymnastics

New television deal looks set to create exciting fan-base

Gymnastics Club Manager

When the 2018 Gymnastics World Cup was streamed live on the BBC a new era dawned for coverage of the sport. Whether it be an app, website or red button, an exciting new future awaits for fans, competitors and organisers around the gymnastics family.

This marked the beginning of a historic three-year deal between British Gymnastics and the BBC, taking in televised coverage of a long list of events. These include The Artistic Gymnastics British Championships, Rhythmic Gymnastics British Championships, Aerobics Gymnastics British Championships, Trampoline Tumbling and Double Mini Trampoline British Championships, Acrobatics Gymnastics British Championships, and of course the World Cup itself.

An Unprecedented Landmark

The package marks an unprecedented number of Championships and events and a landmark in the history of the sport. It would seem gymnastics is becoming incredibly popular and this has to act as an inspiration for those youngsters taking up the sport. In truth, the Artistic British Championships have been shown in the past, but in terms of those wider disciplines, this will provide wonderful media publicity and coverage. It will also educate those viewers who may not have fully appreciated the skills and athleticism shown by such amazingly talented athletes in the past. When club members see gymnastics generating a much bigger fan-base, this in itself will act as a spur.

New Gymnastics Season Events

Shooting for the stars


Gymnastics fireworks to light up Spring

The touch paper has been lit on the new gymnastics season meaning an array of soaring talent is about to explode into a sky-high array of colour and brilliance. And in truth, we won’t have to wait long for more fireworks, with both the British Championships, World Cup and Commonwealth Games all in the next couple of months alone. It really doesn’t get any better in terms of gripping, sometimes pacy and enthralling competition.

The British Championships

Liverpool’s Echo Arena will be the scene for some amazing feats of superhuman strength and flexibility with The British Championships being first to take off. This celebration on home soil never fails to disappoint, and often reveals the odd shooting star of the future. Between the 8th and 11th March, more ambitions will be realised.

One of the highlights of the first day will be the Espoir women’s all-around competition involving Britain’s best 12 and 13-year-olds. They’ll be firing up the stage as they compete for the coveted all-around title, where they compete on four apparatus. These include the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. The second day sees the Men’s under 14 all-around competition. Here, gymnasts battle for all-around titles with total scores across the floor exercise, pommel, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar.

Complying with The Code

Gymnastics flying the flag for modern sports governance

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There have been a number of sad episodes in the world of sport in recent months. This is perhaps symptomatic of the modern high-pressure world we live in, where winning results are often demanded on tap, and coaches are given little time to make an impact.

It’s reassuring then, to see British Gymnastics, one of 55 of the 58 national bodies, now fully compliant with a world-leading Code for Sports Governance. All of this followed the most wide-ranging set of sports governance reforms implemented anywhere in the world.

The move also includes a number of key aims including commitments to greater diversity, with boards employing at least 30 percent of each gender. With leadership in mind, a quarter of boards must also be made up of independent members. There should be greater transparency, so participants and fans can better understand the decision-making of their leaders. Tighter term limits need to be introduced for board and council members, to facilitate a regular freshening up of ideas and expertise, with establishing boards as the ultimate decision-making authority within a sport away from traditional councils.

In fact, a set of 58 mandatory requirements has been created for the governance of the sport across five themes. Those of structure, people, communication, integrity and policy.

Katie Bowie-Hallam: The Pride of Pembrokeshire

A gem in the Welsh Disability Gymnastics Crown

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Katie Bowie-Hallam has a very bright future ahead of her. Not just because her academic studies are going well, and not just because she’s an excellent role model for those around her, but because she has recently become the youngest Platinum Young Ambassador with Sport Pembrokeshire. When you consider the 17-year-old is also playing a leading role in coaching the Welsh Disability Squad, it becomes clear this is indeed a very special individual.

Supporting Disability Gymnastics

One of the main reasons for this is her selfless approach to disability gymnastics and the fantastic support given to her sister Jemma, one of the best-known gymnasts at the Pembrokeshire Special Needs’ Club. Katie has been involved from being a very small girl, so she knows a great deal about the efforts made by disabled gymnasts to reach the top of their game.

At the still tender age of 12, Jemma was offered the opportunity of joining the Welsh Special Needs Squad but still needed a personal coach to go with her. Cue Katie, who quickly underwent a whole-day course in Llanelli, learning how to care for and support a disabled gymnast. There were, of course, many more topics involved in such a short space of time, but Katie passed the test impressively enough to be able to accept her new challenge with positivity and vigour.

Two of a Kind: Gymnastics Greats Honoured in 2018

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We can all name at least one person who people recognise as an inspirational figure to many of those around them. It could be a teacher, serviceman, or a neighbour. In the world of gymnastics at every level, there are countless individuals who have brought the very best out of their charges, earning great respect and plaudits along the way. These unsung heroes are seldom forgotten. In fact, they can teach us more about ourselves, and how we can use their example to help others.

Deserved Recognition

Founder Chairman of the British Gymnastics Charitable Foundation, Ray Phillips and female Chair in the Commonwealth Games Federation’s European group, Helen Phillips, are two leading examples. So much so, Ray has been awarded a Medal of the Order of the British Empire, with Helen awarded an MBE in recognition of their services to the sport. And though both will modestly accept their accolades, in terms of gymnastics, this wonderful recognition is completely respected and deserved.

GymFusion – The Gymnastics Extravaganza for All

Bringing Generations Together



Everyone enjoys a little sporting drama as athletes battle it out at the highest level. It doesn’t matter whether it’s football, snooker or gymnastics, we can all be gripped, hanging on to each move as if we were making it ourselves. We’ve all thought at one time or another, ‘I’d like to have a go at that,’ but would feel self-conscious around others’. In fact, there are thousands of people enjoying sport simply for the fun of things away from any form of competition. Well, enter GymFusion, a concept taking gymnasts of all abilities and ages to work in unison.

The Focus is On Fun With A Theme

GymFusion is largely a show-style festival carrying the universal ethos of ‘gymnastics for all’, also bringing together friends and families. It involves carefully orchestrated themed performances showcasing individual skills and talents, in a non-competitive environment. This fascinating combination is probably the main reason why the event has been wowing crowds for more than six years now.

Top UK Gymnast Kristian Thomas Retires

A career built on turning Gymnastics into an art form

Kristian Thomas
As captain of the British Olympic Team in Rio, Kristian Thomas knows a thing or two about gymnastics at the highest level. Now, having won multiple honours in the sport at World Championships, European Championships and both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, the Wolverhampton born athlete has announced his retirement.

King of Clubs

A graduate of the Earls Gymnastics Club, Kristian is clear proof club owners and organisers can also bask in the glory of success for years to come if they manage young talent correctly. In fact, Kristian led the men’s artistic British team for more than a decade, playing a role in many defining moments in the history of men’s artistic gymnastics in this country.

The New Hardship Grants Ambassador – Beth Tweddle MBE

Helping ensure gymnastics remains open to all

Beth Tweddle

Beth Tweddle MBE was the sort of dedicated gymnast any club owner would have been proud to be associated with. In this sense, it came as no surprise when The British Gymnastics Foundation recently announced the three-time world champion would become an ambassador of their Hardship Grants programme.

Everyday Problems

It was deemed an excellent choice primarily because of her genuine belief that sport is for all. Unfortunately, however, this mantra is easier said than done for a great many people of all ages. Why? The answer to the question lies within two fundamental areas – namely, a personal crisis, or more often than not, financial hardship. You see, even at a basic level, participating in any sport can carry some unavoidable expense for which no-one is directly accountable.

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 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.