Late January saw the British Gymnastics Men’s Senior Squad meet up at Lilleshall National Sports Centre for their first training camp of the year. It’s always a happy occasion with new faces adding to the spectacle. We all know what it can be like moving from junior to senior school, and for those making such a leap on the gymnastics scale, it can understandably be a little unnerving. In the case of Joshua Nathan from the City of Birmingham club, and Joe Cemlyn-Jones from the Falcons Academy it was a seamless if not inspiring transition. Just as hard working as our Gymnastics Club Manager software, both youngsters are well used to training twice each day.
Becoming A Senior
The seniors, of course, are all professional athletes in terms of application and training. It comes as little surprise then to see both disciplines merging without too many problems as Joshua explained: “It’s been really good training with the other big guys, it’s really inspirational training with them, looking up to them, training alongside them. I’ve seen them from such a young age and it’s nice to finally be a part of that team and part of that atmosphere in the gym.”
A Decade in The Making
This polite and driven young man may not have reached his 18th birthday but bear in mind he’s been competing for more than a decade. This includes competition in both the USA and Europe, providing the perfect example of what it takes to succeed in the sport. And of course, Joshua has won titles from under 14, 16 and 18 categories at the British and English Championships. In fact, this years British Championships are the next port of call as he looks to establish himself in the senior ranks. Like Joshua, Joe from Clevedon is a real star in the making with an impressive record of performances at home and abroad behind him. A product of the Sports Aid scheme and Gordano school pupil, Joe has tasted glory in Germany, Italy and Austria. As a rapidly improving gymnast, a visit to Lilleshall represents a major stepping stone in terms of training. So, what’s the best thing about suddenly working on routines alongside the UK’s finest? He said: “I was doing squat halves on high-bar at the same time Dan Purvis was doing squat halves and I was trying to compare them, asking tips and what he thinks during a skill and he was giving me tips and pointers. Things like that really help with improving individual skills. By the end of the year, I want to be doing all six apparatus, scoring well all-around and just completing clean and consistent routines.”
Grasping the Baton
It’s a well-known fact those new to the squad often learn advanced skills as they quickly enhance those they already have. Most sports coaches agree, when individuals work with the best it tends to stretch them a little bit further. The result is their own personal performances improve. This is, of course, one of the key aims of regular training camps. All of this hasn’t been lost on Joshua who explained: “The other guys are very helpful and there’s a great team atmosphere that really lifts your spirits and gets you pumped ready for your routines. They’re great people to train with.”
Raising the Bar
The training may be tough, but then medals in gymnastics have to be earned. A perfect example of this was seen by all at the recent under 18 international Team Cup in Texas. A very strong team consisting of Raekwon Baptiste, Jake Jarman, Pavel Karnejenko, Jamie Lewis and Adam Tobin, all performed brilliantly. And they needed to, up against the cream of Japan, USA, Australia, Canada, Germany and France. Both Joe and Joshua would have been following things closely, as Jake lifted a silver medal following some great routines on the vault. Jamie put in some outstanding displays on his way to three magnificent medals involving all-around and pommel bronze added to a superb gold on the rings. Men’s National Coach Andre Popov said: “The GB boys have been very good, and I’m really pleased with their performances. My congratulations go to all gymnasts, coaches and clubs.”
Every member of the team competed to a very high standard, setting a benchmark for the year ahead. When both newbies come together with their elders at the British Championships in March at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, they will be aware of the standards they have to meet. There’s not much doubt, however, they clearly have the talent, discipline and determination to succeed.
The British Championships
Olympic, World and European stars will all be fighting for prestigious titles at the 2018 Gymnastics British Championships at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on 8-11th March 2018. Tickets are available now.
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