Katie Bowie-Hallam: The Pride of Pembrokeshire

A gem in the Welsh Disability Gymnastics Crown

Gymnastics Club Manager

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

Gymnastics Club Manager

 

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

GymFusion

 

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 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.

 

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.

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.

Gymnastics Making A Home In Liverpool


Image credit: http://www.echoarena.com/whats-on/2017-gymnastics-british-championships/

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.