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.