Driven Daniel Purvis: What It Takes To Become An Olympic Gymnast

Daniel Purvis: Become An Olympic Gymnast

If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to become an Olympic gymnast take a closer look at the highly talented Daniel Purvis. We all hear stories of hard work, discipline and dedication, but sometimes fate can also lend a helping hand.

And it seems for this internationally elite three-time British all-around champion in men’s artistic gymnastics, being a hyperactive child, actually created a catalyst for future glory. Along with most parents of youngsters with an energy overload, Bob and Denise Purvis suddenly had their hands full.

An outlet was needed, and what could be better than a sporting activity to both focus the mind and take care of that excess energy. After all, both were PE teachers.

But what?

Finding An Aptitude For Gymnastics

By his own admission, he was hopeless at football and other related activities just didn’t work. One of his teachers suggested visiting a gym, so off they went to Southport YMCA – a converted egg factory.

Within a few visits the coaches were remarking about his strength and ability – and then the penny dropped with Bob as he explains: “From a very early age – probably around two – we would take him to the park to do his monkey climbs on the bars just because he enjoyed that kind of activity and it helped him let off some steam. There was obviously a link between the two. We said: ‘Right, that’s enough for us’. If this is where he needs to be, this is where we’ll make sure he is as regularly as he needs to. By the time he was eight, we had to make sure he had enough fuel in his stomach once home from school and before driving to the gym. It would then be a three-hour training session.”

For Daniel himself, it was a case of finding something he really loved. And It was clear he felt very comfortable in that environment, even though many at that time still thought of gymnastics as a girls sport.

The Burden of Support

He admits to being a shy boy, and gymnastics helped him to develop socially. Mum and Dad would take him to the gym six times each week, and when he had competitions in London they’d drive him there and back.

He learned to drive as an 18-year-old, but by then his parents had already given up so much to support him. Daniel added: “It was a massive burden on them. But at the same time they were so supportive and without them I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have achieved. In the early days, there were only a couple of hundred people in different school venues. When we moved to where we are now there were about 450 members. Now we’ve got 1,300.”

The Role of Jeff Brooks

In the most part Olympic gymnasts have been heavily influenced by a quality coach and mentor, and in Daniel’s case, it was Jeff Brooks. He said: “When Dan was a young boy he was very introverted and didn’t have a lot of confidence. Even when I realised how good he could be, it was a long time before he accepted what I was saying could be true. That’s the biggest achievement on my part, I think.

Apart from the long hours and complete discipline, Daniel’s regime has affected life at home. From shopping in the supermarket for perfectly balanced meals the whole family can eat, to rest and relaxation, everything is geared to his performances.

His dad retired early to help support his son explaining: “It has certainly been a massive part of Daniel’s progression in this sport that as a family we have been able to support him and give him all the extra time that he needed. Gymnastics is a sport, of course, where you can’t just go in the back garden or go to the park and run around. It has to be so specific, with specific apparatus.”

It’s true athletes actually do give up so much for a chance of a medal, something fans should really appreciate.

To Become An Olympic Gymnast…

As a Junior in 2006, he came fourth in the team for Great Britain at the Junior European Championships in Greece. Two years later in Lausanne, he helped the British team win the Gold medal and individually won the all-around silver at the Junior European Championships again.

From The Commonwealth Games to The World Championships, amongst his other achievements was a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics in the all-around competition alongside Kristian Thomas, at the North Greenwich arena.

Dan stepped up to the plate with vigour in 2015, performing for Great Britain at the World Gymnastics Championships. His superb and disciplined performances across all six events played a leading role in helping the team qualify for the Rio Olympics.

All involved parties recognise success at the highest level can’t be achieved without an excellent support strategy and a lot of personal sacrifices. Dan now has his own gymnastics club called Dan Purvis gymnastics, based in the Nac Netherton and Dunes, Southport.

Who knows – there could be another star in the making, very much in the Dan Purvis mould.

Oksana Chusovitina Enters The International Gymnastics Hall Of Fame

Oksana Chusovitina

There can’t be a greater example to up and coming gymnasts than the charismatic Oksana Chusovitina. She may have been inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean her career is over.

The Sporting Legend And Role Model Just Keeps On Going

In fact, at the age of 42 the only woman to have competed in three Olympics for three different nations, is still going strong. She most recently performed on balance beam, floor exercise and vault at World Cup meets back in March. It would also seem Tokyo 2020 is still a realistic target for this disciplined gymnast who has also performed for the old Soviet Union, Germany and her native Uzbekistan in various other events.

Speaking at the induction awards ceremony in the States last weekend she told the assembled throng through her translator, former team-mate and now coach Svetlana Boginskaya: “It seems like this award is for people who retired. In this case, I am not, and you will never be alive until I retire. So keep waiting.”

Her sense of mischief is legendary of course, and she is naturally the only woman to be inducted into this supreme role of honour while still competing. When she arrived at the 2016 Rio Games, she became the first gymnast to compete in seven consecutive Olympics. And she wasn’t just there to make up the numbers either.

Chusovitina qualified to the vault final, where she threw a Produnova (handspring-double front), the hardest vault possible. She’s also won vault medals in an incredible nine World Championships. The Hall of Fame, housed in the Science Museum, Oklahoma, has now chronicled the exploits of 95 individuals from 22 countries.

And for the first time, the entire ceremony was streamed on Facebook LIVE.

In a colourful speech, she added: “I would like to thank my mother for longevity in the sport because she’s the one who didn’t want me to do it,” Chusovitina said Saturday. “I wanted to prove her wrong. With any child, you just want to do the opposite of what your parent tells you. So, thank you, mom. She always wanted for me to be scientist or piano player, or someone that was not an athlete, so thank you, mom, for making me an athlete. And I think when my mom actually will say, “Honey, I’m OK with you being a gymnast, maybe that will be the time where I will stop.”

Tribute To Her Son

Her son was diagnosed with leukaemia in October 2002, but made a full recovery and will turn 18-years-old in November. Her move to Germany was tied to her young son’s diagnosis, so they moved there to receive treatment. She went on: “As a mother, I would like to thank the gymnastics community all over the world. Because of their help, my child in cancer-free. He didn’t take a passion for gymnastics; he is afraid of heights. He is short, like me, but he likes basketball. And he believes he’s going to be a basketball player and be in NBA. He is short, but I don’t want to kill his dreams.”

Chusovitina’s career as an elite gymnast has spanned more than a quarter of a century. She won the USSR Junior Nationals in 1988 and began competing at the international level in 1989 before many of her current rivals were even born.

Chusovitina has also competed in 10 World Championships, three Asian Games and three Goodwill Games. She also holds the record for the most individual world championship medals in a single event (nine, on the vault).

The Petroleum Club also saw three other gymnasts inducted: Japan’s Shun Fujimoto helped Japan to the 1976 Olympic team title competing amazingly with a broken leg, Alexei Nemov, the 2000 Olympic all-around champion from Russia, is 11 months younger than Chusovitina but retired after the 2004 Olympics. She also received a warm welcome along with 2008 Olympic silver medallist Alicia Sacramone from America who retired four years ago.

Supporters and guests covered 15 countries, and it seems fitting the 21st coming of age ceremony should feature the exploits of one, Oksana Chusovitina, perhaps the greatest role model the sport has ever seen.

The Love To Move Programme: How British Gymnastics Is Helping Dementia Sufferers

The Love To Move Programme: How British Gymnastics Is Helping Dementia Sufferers

A recent report has revealed British Gymnastics Foundation’s chair-based gymnastics exercise programme for dementia sufferers, has been a great success so far. Research carried out by Age UK has confirmed the scheme was found to offer demonstrable benefits for those with mild to advanced forms of dementia. These included physical, emotional and cognitive aspects.

The Love to Move programme has the goal of getting older people moving and functioning better, with a view to improving the lives of those living with this life changing disease. Based on a similar programme developed by the Korean and Japanese Gymnastics Federations, the BGF has taken its core principles and adapted it for the British culture.

More than 150 people have been enjoying specially designed and unique ‘bilaterally asymmetrical exercises’ where the individual draws different patterns with the left-hand side of their body to the right-hand side. The exercises carried out over a long term period bring positive changes to posture, movement and memory as well as the social engagement of those taking part.

Providing Life-Changing Benefits

British Gymnastics Foundation Manager, Patrick Bonner, said: “This age and dementia friendly programme is astonishing people with its life-changing benefits. So many people involved are seeing their lives improving as a result of the programme and it is remarkable that people are regaining functions which were thought to be lost because of the Love to Move gymnastics based exercises.”

Recent assessments made by care home staff have revealed 10 out of 14 participants have noticed physical improvements. A total of 86% is now socialising with other residents and staff better. 13 out of 14 residents are reported to be happier and more settled. And amazingly 100 per cent of participants are now easier to connect with.

Several individuals are able to use their hands again to feed themselves, do crafts and play games. And to the delight of all involved, one participant, who began taking part in the sessions twice a week and who previously showed few signs of improvement, has now regained her independence. As a result, she’s been able to move back into her own home.

Many other people have been taken off hypertension medication, been lifted from depression and are now sleeping much better.

Positive Early Results

These are early findings of course, but it does seem as though much can be achieved through this ground-breaking project. All results in Asia have been positive with every aspect being state-funded, and now the scheme run by the BGF is set to become more widely available.

Vinal K Karania, Research Manager (Evaluation and Impact) at Age UK said: “For many of the older people participating, their external environment changed little and one can, therefore, be confident that much of the improvements observed will have been because of this programme.”

Programme ambassador, gymnast and two-time Olympian, Kristian Thomas, added: “It’s amazing to see what the Love to Move programme has achieved. Dementia affects so many people and to know that gymnastics is making their lives easier and improving their quality of life; it’s something I’m extremely happy to be a part of.”

Meanwhile, the Foundation has been striving to secure extra funding through a number of outlets including a crowdfunding campaign which you can now donate to. More staff will be trained in the next few months and a booklet containing some of the key exercises is available for people to download and try for themselves.

It’s more proof gymnastics is a sport also putting a great deal back into the community Why not visit www.britishgymnasticsfoundation.org/lovetomove for more information and to access the full report and Love to Move booklet.

Team GB Trampoline Gymnasts: Bouncing To Glory

Laura Gallagher Team GB Trampoline Gymnasts: Bouncing To Glory

Both Laura Gallagher and Andrew Stamp have been bouncing with joy following their French Masters Open success. The likeable Team GB trampoline gymnasts have been hitting new highs in the sport for a while now.

So it was no surprise to see Laura take the women’s title with a total of 53.765 marks. This, having qualified for the final in second place. Andrew clearly took charge of the qualifications in the 15 to 17 year’s group. And it was glory all the way as he went on to win the final with a score of 56.730.

And we mustn’t forget the talented Corey Walkes of course who finished in 16th place in his own category. The whole event proved to be an exciting and sociable competition, thanks to the commitment and ethos of all those gymnasts, clubs and coaches who took part.

Trampolining is Terrific

In terms of gymnastics, trampolining is one of the most thrilling categories, and one of the most fascinating for those looking to take up the sport. How many children have enjoyed playing on a small compact trampoline in their own back garden?

It was George Nissen who, in the 1930’s watched trapeze artists performing tricks when bouncing off a safety net. He constructed the first modern trampoline in his garage to reproduce this on a smaller scale and enjoy his diving and tumbling activities.

George created a  company to build trampolines for sale and used a variant of the Spanish word trampoline (diving board) as a trademark. He’d enthral onlookers inviting them to participate in his demonstrations as part of his marketing strategy. It was, of course, the beginnings of a new sport.

Bouncing All Over The World!

It wasn’t long before trampolining became commonplace in American schools as part of physical education programmes. The sport declined there however largely because of inadequate training, but elsewhere in the world, the sport was most strongly adopted in Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Since trampolining became an Olympic sport in 2000. More nations have followed suit with China producing world champion athletes in less than a decade. The International Trampolining Federation became part of the Fédérationn Internationale de Gymnastique in 1999. FIG is now the international governing body for the sport, paired with Tumbling as the skill sets overlap.

International competitions are run under the rules of FIG. Individual national gymnastics organisations can make local variations to the rules in matters such as the compulsory and optional routines, and a number of rounds for national and local competitions.

Pike, Twist, Tuck…

Currently, individual trampoline competitions are made up of two or three routines, one of which may involve a compulsory set of skills. These consist of various combinations of somersaults, shaped bounces, body landings and twists performed in various body positions such as the tuck, pike or straight position.

In each routine, the athlete must perform 10 different skills on a standard 14 foot by seven-foot trampoline complete with a central marker. They must always finish on their feet. The routine is marked out of 10 by five judges with deductions for incomplete moves, moving too far from the centre mark or poor form.

Usually, the highest and lowest scores are discarded. Additional points can be added depending on the difficulty of the skills being performed.

Here in the UK, you can discover a number of clubs specialising in this thrilling sport. All have professional and well-qualified coaches – they are welcoming and openly encourage new members with a taste for adventure. Trampolining is fun and you can go at your very own pace, developing some simple routines as you go.

As for Laura Gallagher and Andrew Stamp? The sky’s the limit!

Barry Hearn: The New Face of 21st Century Gymnastics

Barry Hearn

There are many both younger and older involved in the sport of gymnastics who stayed up late to see the end of The World Championship Snooker Final. Those who did would have seen a familiar face during the presentation ceremony. A face now very much part of the furniture, but a face many still associate with snooker, darts, boxing and crown green bowls.

That face belonged to the enigmatic Barry Hearn, mentor of the great Steve Davis and innovator of so many events in sports across the years. It may come as a surprise to some, however, to discover Barry was behind the recent Sky television coverage of The World Cup of Gymnastics. What’s more, he’s also a huge fan, which is great news for every youngster and club member out there.

Promoting The World Cup of Gymnastics

Hearn, renown for jazzing up the coverage of sporting events in order to make them a more exciting product, announced a four-year partnership with Matchroom Sport to promote an annual World Cup of Gymnastics at the O2 Arena in London. The first event was a huge success as you might expect. Why? Because it was shown in its entirety, drawing in a whole new legion of fans.

The first one-day event – featured eight national teams competing in six men’s events and four women’s. What’s more all 18,000 seats available sold out extremely quickly, proving there’s a strong fan base out there much like snooker.

“I cannot believe the number of people who’ve told me they love gymnastics since the Olympics,” he said. “10.8 million watched Max Whitlock win gold on television. I was one of them. The trouble is, in the past, this was a sport that only surfaced every four years. Not anymore. It’s not just about a provincial domestic event, it’s about taking these guys and making them global superstars. Not just once every four years, but every day.”

Bringing Gymnastics To A Wider Audience

It’s already been noted next year’s event will bring with it a few new innovations, in true Barry Hearn style. But the sports traditions will be totally respected. This hasn’t been lost on gymnasts like Rio bronze medal winner Nile Wilson, who said: “When I first started competitions were held in sports halls in front of 50 people, all of whom were the parents of competitors. This is so exciting for the sport. “I’m going to call myself The Wilsonator – That’s got a ring to it.”

Jane Allen, the chief executive of British Gymnastics, added “The number of Britons who participate in gymnastics has grown by 10-15 per cent every year since 2011. When you’re having that sort of growth in your numbers, you feel a real benefit,” she says. “Our clubs are expanding too, and we’ve got better business models out there. They’re not just family clubs, they’re business clubs. They’re attracting investment. We’ve been very fortunate, we’ve got some very good athletes and without them, we wouldn’t have the product. But we’re also represented by 1,500 gymnastics clubs across the country. We haven’t staged a non-Olympic gymnastics event in London since 1975.Our strategy has been for some time to bring this event to London to bring it to the attention of a wider audience.”

Let’s be honest – why shouldn’t gymnastics become a mainstream sport? After all, those competing can do more with their bodies in terms of fitness and flexibility than most footballers. It could be argued they also work much harder at their game.

Viewers at the Olympics, of course, are spellbound by the amazing movement of everyone involved of course. The answer must be, let’s see more of the sport on television and on a regular basis. There’s no better way to bring youngsters into the sport.

Kristian Thomas Named As British Gymnastics Foundation Sporting Ambassador

Kristian Thomas Named As British Gymnastics Foundation Sporting Ambassador

Kristian Thomas is the new ambassador for the British Gymnastics Foundation’s ground-breaking Love to Move programme. The scheme has been designed to help make life-changing differences to those living with dementia.

The likeable two-time Olympian takes up the story:  “I was approached by the British Gymnastics Foundation and straight away I knew it was something I’d like to be involved in. A lot of people know someone with dementia, so I thought it was a great opportunity to give back to the sport that’s helped me so much. I’m really hoping my experience within gymnastics can help people doing the programme to regain some of the functions they thought were lost.” This represents a clear example of how the sport can also benefit people in the community, so it’s not just about medals and glory.

One of Our Best-Loved Olympic Gymnasts

Kristian of course  is a long-standing member of both the England and Great Britain men’s teams. He was a member of the gold-winning British team in the 2012 European Championships team event, also winning a historic bronze in the same event at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

He won his first global individual medal in the 2013 World Championships, in the form of a vault bronze It was also the first global medal ever won in the vault by a British male gymnast. In 2015 he won his first major international title, gold in the floor exercise at the 2015 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

Very popular within the sport, Kristian will be working alongside the Foundation to help raise awareness of the programme, as well as being present at future fund-raising events with a view to helping expand the directive across the UK.

Dementia Sufferers Benefit From Love To Move Programme

Patrick Bonner, British Gymnastics Foundation Manager said: “We chose Kristian as our ambassador for the Love to Move Programme as he has experienced gymnastics at all levels and has a deep understanding of core gymnastics skills and how they are beneficial to people, no matter what their age or background. Kristian is currently doing a sports degree in Strength & Conditioning and as part of this is exploring how people living with dementia can benefit from exercise programmes. I hope that Kristian’s high profile as one of Great Britain’s best-loved Olympians can help raise awareness that gymnastics is more than just a sport and has the power to transform the lives of people most in need.”

It may come as a surprise to some seeing gymnastics linked with such a serious condition, but research carried out by Age UK has produced some exciting results. Experts have discovered ‘a demonstrable benefit in the physical, emotional and cognitive aspects of the 150 older people who have taken part in the scheme so far.

Love to Move has been delivered regularly in two care homes, one day centre and one community group in Cambridgeshire across the last year. Those older people having mild to advanced forms of dementia appear to benefit the most.

As for how he got involved in the sport, Kristian’s parents sent him to a club with the simply aim of improving his co-ordination. “I was always climbing and getting into things that I shouldn’t, so going to gymnastics channelled my energy,” he says.

“I also have a younger sister, Rebecca, and she was into gymnastics too.” The 23-year-old from Wednesfield astounded them, clearly showing a huge flair. The rest, of course, is history. Kristian was thrilled to have been asked to play such an important role, and you can be sure he’ll do a great job. They say gymnastics is for everybody, and few can argue with that statement.

Artistic Excellence From The iPro World Cup Of Gymnastics

Amy Tinkler

Olympian Amy Tinkler from South Durham lifted a well deserved bronze at the 2017 iPro World Cup of Gymnastics in front of an excited crowd in the O2 Arena, London. The finest gymnast to come out of South Durham was greatly encouraged by the supportive home crowd who willed her to another superb medal.

The 2016 Olympic floor exercise bronze medallist and 2015 British all-around champion, performed powerfully across the apparatus through strong routines to record a total of 53.433. Victoria Nguyen from the United States took the silver with a score of 53.832, with Germany’s Tabea Alt claiming gold with an impressive 54.598.

The competition was intense, enthralling and hugely enjoyable for the lively spectators to watch. And of course, it notched up another landmark for the 17-year-old, whose list of credits makes wonderful reading.

A Bronze of Beauty For Amy Tinkler

A naturally thrilled Amy from Bishop Auckland said: “It’s amazing I’m so so happy. I’ve had some problems this year with my calf so coming into this I wasn’t sure what to expect. My performance was better than I thought it would be, I think I fed off the atmosphere of the home crowd. I loved all the support, it was like Rio all over again but even better with it being in Britain. I’ve never heard so many kids shouting “Amy, Amy!” that feels so special and for me, I love the pressure and the buzz of competition so they definitely helped me today.”

Her winning routine began on the vault with  a double twisting yurchenko, before moving onto the bars. A full twisting double back dismount drew great appreciation from both judges and fans. Amy’s difficult  layout on the beam saw her make a grab just to stay on. But as all top class athletes do, her resolve and will to win came shining through.

A strong dismount saved the day earning 12 marks. The big finish wasn’t far away however, as she looked to her favourite piece of apparatus in the final rotation. Lying in 4th, it was a case of changing gear to secure a medal. Her tumbling routine was flawless, the highlights being a full twisting double straight somersault and a double pike finish. Accumulating a further 13.233 marks was the clincher.

A Trio of British Medal Winners

Amy of course, becomes only the third British woman to win an individual gymnastics medal, following Beth Tweddle’s uneven bars bronze in 2012, and Bryony Paige’s silver trampoline success. At 16, she was actually the youngest member of the British team in Rio, receiving an open bus top welcome on returning to her native north-east.

A brilliant all rounder, she’s perhaps best known as one of our leading artistic gymnasts. In fact, she competed at the 2013 British Artistic Championships. In the All-Around competition this likeable star took second place with a final score of 53.800. She scored 14.050 in the vault, 12.100 on the uneven bars, 13.650 on the balance beam and 14.000 on the floor exercise.

Amy also competed in all four apparatus finals. In the vault final, she amassed 14.100 marks for her first vault, and 13.400 for her second, for an average total of 13.750, giving her the silver. Immensely talented, Amy makes her discipline look completely natural. She has of course, put many hours of hard work in from a very young age. And of course, she still has so much to look forward to in this new cycle.

Britain’s Georgia-Mae Fenton was also due to compete alongside Amy, but sustained an injury in the warm up. British Gymnastics medical staff made a thorough assessment before deciding jointly, it was in her best interests to withdraw from the competition. It’s thought Georgia will make a speedy recovery. As for the almost angelic Amy Tinkler, the success story continues.

Whitlock The Workhorse: Practising Pommel Perfection

Max Whitlock pommel horse

Doing ‘The Whitlock’ could soon be a phrase associated with gymnastics fans across the world. Even if it isn’t, the sport will certainly be enjoying some innovate and powerful new routines on the pommel horse. For five-time Olympic and World gold medallist, Max Whitlock has gone back to the springing board in search of the spectacular.

Taking Time Out

Having withdrawn from competition until September, the Basildon based athlete certainly hasn’t been taking a breather. Far from it. In fact, he’s working hard to produce the most amazing routine possible. He said: “It’s about creating something that shocks people. “There are two I am thinking of now. One would be a big, big move. It would probably change the pommel quite a bit if I can do it, but it’s very dangerous at the same time. If I miss with my hand I will land on my face. So I need to progress it really slowly and make sure it’s right. I want something that has never been performed – nor even imagined – by any of my rivals.  That’s why I wanted to give myself this time away from competition.”

He won both the men’s floor and pommel horse exercises at the 2016 Summer Olympics. With ten medals and three titles in Olympic and world championships, Whitlock is the most successful gymnast in his nation’s history.

Max added: “The floor routine I show on stage will hopefully have four new tumbles out of five. So that’s another big job and I can’t rush it. There are only two G-level skills at the moment on the pommel horse [which means a difficulty value of 0.70], and I am hoping this would be a third. The other one, the dangerous one, might be the first H [or 0.80] on this apparatus. You are only credited with a skill when you pull it off at one of the two biggest events: world championships or an Olympics, but I’d love to have a move named after me.”

Training Media Ban

As you might expect, cameras and mobiles are banned from South Essex Gymnastics Club when he is testing out these new manoeuvres. So many things appear on Youtube these days, he just can’t afford to take any chances. And of course, one slight mishap could result in injury, which is why he’s taking it slowly.

Even bringing into play a soft introduction at a domestic meet could give the game away. Every athlete takes a long hard look at their routine after the Olympics, as it’s all part of the cycle. He added: “I heard of one competition a long time ago where there were four people trying to do a Tkachev on high bar. “It depended on what apparatus you started on, who had the chance to do it first. If the order had been different, we would call the Tkachev by a different name.”

The points code is amended every four years offering a higher or lower value for certain moves. This is to ensure old routines are taken apart and recombined into new shapes. Max Whitlock was the first British man to win a World Gymnastics title, winning a Gold medal on the Pommel and a Silver medal in the Floor competition.

He became part of the history-making team who became the first British men’s team to win a World Silver medal. As one of the sport’s finest exponents, Max is a great role model.  Alongside his continued gymnastics success, Max is a supporter of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Charity Redevelopment Appeal and an ambassador for Paul Smith, Adidas, Weston Homes, Nissan and DFS.

UK Gymnastics Championships 2017: Liverpool Leading The Way

UK gymnastics championships 2017

The UK Gymnastics Championships 2017 are a record-breaking success…

Merseyside was celebrating a record breaking event following the success of the 2017 British Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool. It drew the Echo Arena’s largest ever crowd with packed houses on both the Saturday and Sunday.

The crowd certainly weren’t disappointed following a dazzling array of performances from UK elite gymnasts including Joe Fraser from the City of Birmingham, winner of the men’s title, and Olympian Ellie Downie, who lifted the women’s crown.

Head Turning Performances

Ellie featured on our website before the event having told the public her new routine would turn heads, was true to her word. The judge’s heads were turned as well however, after witnessing a superb display of athleticism and artistry.  This included a double twisting double back somersault on the floor.

Youth Olympic Champion Joe, 18,  had spectators agog with a scintillating performance in his high-bar routine. He told the assembled media:  “I’m speechless. It’s unbelievable. It’s not something I came into this competition expecting. I just wanted to try my new elements and see how they were on the stage and see how I could perform them. I started on rings and tried a new strength element. I was quite nervous for that but rings went well. I had a little mistake on parallel bars but I managed to compose myself for the high bar routine. Floor went well, and then pommel, I was nervous because I knew what I could do if it all went to plan. I was nervous, but I managed to say on, so I’m so happy.”

Future Talent Showcased

James Hall from Pegasus and Dominick Cunningham from Birmingham shared a silver to demonstrate what great talent we can look forward to in the future, as cycles evolve. Finishing in 4th was Sam Oldham from Notts, with William Trood and Gabriel Hannah from Loughborough taking the next two places.

In fact, Loughborough was the only university taking part in the competition.  Southport can feel very proud of Frank Baines, who won the floor title, with Courtney Tulloch from Swansea winning the rings.

Highlights from UK Gymnastics Championships 2017…

Returning to the women’s highlights, Maisie Methuen from Phoenix and Alice Kinsella took a joint silver away from the event. Alice won the crowd’s hearts with a stunning beam routine, including a solid free cartwheel layout, with Maisie ever the reliable performer on the vault.

Georgina Mae Fenton from East London was simply sensational on the bars, clearly looking one to watch for the future.  Overall, the championships featured a number of competitions, including the junior women, junior men in both two categories, senior all-around, apparatus finals, senior women, junior women and both men and women disability gymnastics.

Not forgetting the masters finals for the men.

Thanks must go to the people of Liverpool for making everyone feel so welcome, but the last word should stay with Jane Allen, British Gymnastics CEO who said:

“It was another fantastic event and we’re thankful to the wonderful Echo Arena in Liverpool for hosting us once again. Congratulations to everyone who took part and contributed to the event’s success, and we must say a very big thank you to the record crowd who cheered on our British stars and created such a brilliant atmosphere. We enjoyed seeing our Olympians returning to the sport and performing for the crowd and it was particularly exciting to see some of our younger gymnasts doing so well. They rose to the occasion nurtured by their clubs, coaches and our high-performance system which is focused on ensuring sustainable results. It was a fantastic opportunity for the juniors to shine and start to challenge the more established seniors as they begin to return to competition in this next cycle. The journey to Tokyo has now begun.”

All eyes are now firmly fixed on this new cycle, though it seems UK gymnastics is getting stronger with each passing year.

Ellie Downie: Back In A New Routine

 

Gymnast Ellie Downie

Ellie Downie is bouncing back. As the British Gymnastics Championships get into full swing all eyes will surely be on current Junior European and European Youth Olympic gymnastics vault champion Ellie Downie.

For this extra powerful athlete who specialises in the vault, is ready to reveal a new head turning routine certain to enthral fans of the sport even more.

You couldn’t help feel for the sister of Olympian and European Champion Becky Downie, as her Rio dream didn’t quite follow the script. But as all inspirational young sportswomen do, she quickly bounced back even more determined to fulfil her lofty ambitions.

Ellie takes up the story: “In Rio my competition didn’t go to plan, I think afterwards I was pretty upset by it so I just took some time off and chilled out. I went out with my friends and just had fun. Then after about a month and having been on holiday, I was ready to get back into the gym and work hard. I’ve actually really enjoyed getting back to full fitness. It was quite amusing watching me and Becky train when we first came back off holiday, as I’d never had more than a week or two off gymnastics. Having a month off on top of just doing what I wanted and not thinking about rest and recovery, was hard. However, I really enjoyed it and I am loving being back now. It’s good to come down and know how hard it is to get back, I think that needed to happen.”

Youth Olympic Gymnastics

Ellie of course landed four medals at the Youth Olympic Games three years ago, before turning senior in 2015. She celebrated the milestone by earning all round bronze medals at both British and European Championships, the first female gymnast ever to win an individual all-around medal in Europe.

One year later she added to her impressive haul by taking another all round bronze and a gold in the vault. More was to come in The World Challenge Cup event in Osijek with a superb performance in all four routines. And then she reinforced her star status claiming silver on both floor and vault, as well as helping the team to silver, at the European Championships in Berne.

From The Bottom To The Top

The Notts club member is a perfect example of how aspiring gymnasts can start at the very bottom, and work their way onto the podium through hard work, determination and a wish to really enjoy the whole sporting experience.

And how has her training been going?

“I have got a couple of new skills for 2017,” she told the media. My new vaults are coming along. We will see how they go but I will probably compete my old ones for the first few competitions. I have a couple of new connections on beam and bars too and I have a new floor routine that I am really excited to compete. It’s very different!”

And of course, the promised routine looks set to be one of the major highlights in the Liverpool Echo Arena.

As for clues she added: “My last routine was a bit different anyway, but this one, you’ll hear the music and you’ll want to look at the floor. It’s very different, often gymnasts use classical music for their floor routines and it is moving away from that a little now but I think mine is an another step even further than that. It’s definitely something the crowd will want to see!”

Ellie is without question a fine example and role model as a former Sky Sport’s Sportswoman of the Month. But she was even more proud to have been crowned’ BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year’, back in 2015.

All of those hours in the gym have helped propel her to the top of the sport, though the ex Nottingham Rushcliffe school pupil has also made many friends along the way. Very much a team player, she still has so much left to achieve.

She said: “I am hoping to be on the World and European teams this year and that’s my aim. I go into every competition with my own goals in my head but I don’t tell people as I think it applies pressure and you should just go in there and only aim to do your best. You don’t aim to win the gold medal, just go in there do your best and whatever comes out of it take the positive with the negatives. All in all, I am just really looking forward to competing this year, it’s the start of a new cycle and it’s going to be a lot of fun!”

All her skills have been quickly re-emerging, and that Rio disappointment has clearly served to make her stronger and better than ever. Ellie Downie is back in the new routine.