By Simon Parkinson
THE air of anticipation was tangible as we threw open our doors at Yate Leisure Centre to the public for the first time, to reveal our brand-new gym facility in all its glory.
Some 350 gymnasts from 13 national clubs gathered to partake in our annual Invitational Competition and once more dozens of our aspiring protĂ©gĂ©s distinguished themselves extremely well in a variety of categories, from Novice through to Grade 3.
While competition was, as usual, intense, the occasion was a special one for everyone at King Eddies as we were finally able to show-off the fruits of our labours over the past few gruelling but richly rewarding weeks.
The new Olympic floor took pride of place, while hundreds of spectators coming and going over the course of the 12-hour day settled down to watch the action from the impressive 212-seat temporary stand. The fact the âmatâ had been used in last yearâs London Olympics certainly went down a storm with the younger generation competing for medals.
With our new eco-friendly lighting serving us well, and balloons and bunting colourfully adorning the arena, the stage truly was set for a great day of competition.
The Grade 3 womenâs pairs threw-up success for King Eddiesâ Brieanne Foster and Ellie Maggs, who clinched gold, while the same class conjured up fourth and fifth-position finishes respectively for the trios comprising Rachel Holehouse, Becky Adams and Fiona Cornick, and Courtney Reeves, Hannah Pallot and Katie Sillick.
In the Grade 2 womenâs group Rhian Streeter, Anna Campbell and Charleigh Mills claimed seventh spot while Erica Holford, Lilly Herbert and Gracie Faulkner ended up in an admirable eighth place.
James Offer and Kirsten Owen, who are still adjusting to life at the higher level having made the big leap from Prep B to Grade 2, took sixth place in the mixed pairs.
Other King Eddies results: Grade 2 womenâs pairs: Poppy Smith, Elise King 10th; Ellie Shephard, Sophie Noble 14th; Rowan Atfield, Isabella Beckhaus 15th; Rhiannon Holt, Holly Stone 16th.
Grade 1 womenâs pairs: Georgia Hennessy, Megan Streeter 8th; Maddie White, Sasha Sage 12th; Megan James, Olivia Trott 15th. Womenâs groups: Sarah Friis, Bailey Jones, Olivia Millward 10th; Abbie Kirby, Millie Cox, Amy Offer 12th. Menâs groups: Finley Austin, Joe Kennedy, Joel Compton, Alex Reeves 2nd.
Prep B womenâs pairs: Maya Fox, Maisie Shinton 13th
Prep A womenâs pairs: Evie Arpino-Norvill, Gracie-May Thompson, and Evie-Arpino Norvill, Kacey Naish, both 3rd; Emily Roebuck, Jess Coney 5th; Amelia Hale, Bethan Williams 6th; Maia Grant, Charlie Steele 7th; Scarlett Howes, Caitlin Hale 8th.
Novice womenâs groups: Rosie McWilliams, Maddison Small, Frankie Welsher 5th.
By Simon Parkinson
THERE were some tired eyes but happy faces after a large contingent of King Eddies gymnasts did themselves proud at the first Heathrow Invitational Acro competition.
We took a party of 100 competitors and club officials to Middlesex for a hugely enjoyable event involving some 15 clubs from all over the country, with many of us leaving the White Lion in Yate to be ferried off by coach along the M4 at the unearthly time of 5.30am - zzzzzz!
Most of our young âuns would not have been back in their beds until after 10.30pm following an arduous day of travelling and activity, but everyone came through the test with flying colours and great potential was shown on the Heathrow mats.
For our former medal-laden star Mollie Grehan, who enjoyed such a glittering career on the international circuit with her partner Maiken Thorne, the day was of special significance â her first outing as a club judge!
Coach John OâMahony smiled: âBy her own admission Mollie was slightly nervous beforehand about taking up her seat alongside her fellow judges, but she took to it extremely well. She had probably more butterflies doing that than she experienced competing in the World Games in Taiwan with Maiken a few years ago en route to winning a bronze medal!
âFor a lot of our younger kids it was their first taste of competition and they all did themselves proud; it was good preparation for the more serious challenges theyâll encounter.â
And what considerable and exciting tests lie in store for so many of King Eddiesâ aspiring gymnasts over the next few weeks and months, starting with our annual Invitational Event which this year will be held in our new HQ at Yate Leisure Centre on Sunday, February 17. This is a competition all participating clubs from across the land seem to respect and enjoy, and the fact that it will be staged in the former bowls hall that is starting to take shape nicely under our big and bold refurbishment initiative makes it all the more special, although we wonât be relocating from the Sports Shed on a permanent basis until the lease can be signed, so watch this space!
A temporary 200-seat stand will be erected for the competition and other gymnastic events taking place in the hall over the next few weeks, and of course weâre now proud owners of a new gym floor (see us hard at work on these pictures getting it in place!) that graced the 2012 Olympics, one we hope to make good use of for many years to come.
At least the room is starting to resemble a gymnastics centre, with a new lighting system and requisite apparatus in place.
Hot on the heels of the Invitational comes our International Competition, to be held over the weekend of March 23 and 24, again at our new facility in Yate Leisure Centre. King Eddiesâ burgeoning reputation obviously spreads far and wide these days as we have a team travelling all the way from Turkmenistan, which isnât a million miles away from the likes of Afghanistan and Iran in Central Asia. But of course you all knew where it is!
Other nations taking part include Canada, Switzerland and the UK for what promises to be another absorbing acrogymnastics occasion.
By then many of our gymnasts will have taken part in the South West Preliminaries, which for the seniors takes place on Saturday, February 23 and Sunday 24, and for the younger grades will be held on Sunday, March 3rd.
Then, over the weekend of April 13 and 14, comes the British Championships at Fenton Manor Sports Complex in Stoke-on-Trent, an event of huge importance to most of our competitors who will be targeting trials places for the Great Britain squad bound for the European Championships in Portugal in October.
Our seniors alone â Shanie-Redd Thorne and partner Danielle Jones, and Jake Underdown and Christopher Child â have their minds fixed firmly on catching the selectorsâ eyes with a view to making the Great Britain team heading to Columbia for the World Games at the back end of this July.
So thereâs all to play for, as they say, as we enter another tense and exciting spell of activity at home and across the globe.
By Simon Parkinson
THE thrilled mother of a King Edmund Gym Club member has spoken of her âimmense prideâ at a prestigious sporting honour granted to her disabled daughter.
Christina Williams watched on in delight with her husband Roger as ten-year-old Sian Williams was called up to receive the Aspiring Young Disability Sportsperson accolade at the council-led South Gloucestershire Sports Awards 2012, held at the BAWA Club in Filton.
Sian, who attends the Ridge Junior School in Yate, was born with Down Syndrome and has suffered many health setbacks related to the condition.
Yet she has overcome adversity by partaking in gymnastics on a regular basis, at both her school and at our own King Eddies Gym Club, whose backing led to Sian picking up the engraved
Christina glowed: âSian was always painfully shy, but when her name was called out at the awards she leapt up from her seat and was gone. She stood there at the front, beamed at everyone and waved to the crowd, just like a little superstar.
âPerforming has really brought her out of her shell and itâs great that a top acrobatic gym club like King Edmund, where she attends twice a week, is willing to give youngsters with special needs a chance.
âHopefully it will inspire other people with disabled children of their own to have a go at achieving something like this as it can be done, with the right level of support.â
Fittingly one of Sianâs regular mentors â a âbuddyâ coach - at King Edmund Gym Club, 16-year-old Shanie-Redd Thorne (right), was runner-up in the Aspiring Young Sportsperson category on the same evening.
âShanie-Redd does one-on-one sessions with Sian on Saturdays and she and the other coaches and gymnasts have given her (Sian) a real focus,â Christina said. âSian is so enthusiastic, despite having severe hypermobility of her joints. She doesnât have the same muscle strength as the others and sheâs tiny for her age.
âShe can do forward and backward rolls and basic balancing work with the assistance of the more able-bodied gymnasts, although when her health problems return, sheâs back in a wheelchair and people sometimes find that hard to comprehend.â
Of their shock in learning of Sianâs condition, Christina, of North Yate, explained: âIt was a real bolt from the blue when she was diagnosed with Down Syndrome an hour after her birth. We have been in hospital with her so many times since that day, not least when she had a series of lung problems that required major surgery.
âWe wanted to do everything we could to give her a normal life and it was wonderful when she took part with the Ridge in a South West Schoolsâ competition at Sherborne with her best friend Charlie Hulme and won a gold medal, although they were the only entrants in a specially created category!
âSian benefits too from having so many caring siblings, James (7), Bethan (5) and Andrew (2), who are all keen gymnasts with King Eddies.â
King Edmund GC manager Mark Thorne, father of Shanie-Redd who nominated Sian for that disability distinction, enthused: âItâs a first for our club to be associated with a disability award and itâs something weâre looking to develop once we move into our new premises at Yate Leisure Centre.
âWeâre proud of Shanie-Redd too. She really enjoys working with Sian and other children with disabilities at the club and sheâs hoping to build on a very successful year herself by gaining selection at senior level for Great Britain in next yearâs World Games and European Championships.
âShe couldnât have done it without her partner Danielle Jones, who herself has had a fantastic year in gaining a world championship bronze and becoming British champion alongside Shanie.â
The South Gloucestershire Sports Awards, sponsored by Airbus and Active Partnership, contain 12 different categories and are designed to recognise achievement, dedication and contribution of local people in various sporting fields across the county.
We Have Lift-Off - The Only Way Is Eddies!
OUR recent trip to southern Spain for an intriguing international event turned out to be a memorable experience in more ways than one!
We took an exuberant party of 23 gymnasts to Granada for the hostsâ inaugural acro open competition, which our manager Mark Thorne aptly described as the El Scorchio Cup!
Well, we certainly turned up the heat on our international rivals as we embarked upon another nice little medal frenzy, although the King Eddies contingent were still buzzing from a chance encounter with ITVâs The Only Way is Essex en route to Granada for the gymnastics showdown.
Head coach Nikki, most certainly buzzing (and still is!) from her unexpected tete-a-tete with star of the show Joey Essex, smiled: âWhile we were at Malaga Airport we bumped into the entire cast of TOWIE, who were heading to Marbella to do some filming.
âThey were great with our kids and we took some brilliant pictures of Joey Essex and the other cast members with our gymnasts.
âSome of the cast seemed a bit reluctant to get involved at first but when Joey muscled in they all joined in and it was great fun.
âThe only downside was that my daughter Shanie-Redd wasnât there, which is rare for her as sheâs competed in every other international going. She stayed behind for a school leaversâ party and sheâs a big, big fan of TOWIE. We hardly had the heart to tell her what sheâd missed out on!â
As for the real business of the day, Nikki said the club had been only too pleased to help a nation in its bid to put acrogymnastics firmly on the Spanish map.
She explained: âThe trip came about when a couple of gymnastic coaches in their early 20s from Granada, Chema Monje and Nicolas Fresneda, got in touch with me out of the blue through Facebook and asked if they could come over to us for a week to pick up some tips to take back home with them, which they did back in December.
âThey were extremely pleasant and professional and clearly determined to help make acrogymnastics the success in Spain it is here.
âDespite being on foreign land they didnât put on us at all. Theyâd stayed in hostel accommodation in Bristol and it took them virtually all day to get to us from the city as they kept getting on the wrong bus!
âThey then called us from McDonaldâs in Yate to say theyâd arrived and it was easy after that as they both had club tracksuits on and I was wearing mine. They were extremely keen and enthusiastic and Iâm convinced theyâll end up as top coaches.â
Beth Foster and Courtney Hodge claimed no fewer than four gold medals as a pairing in Granada while Tyler Kelly and Robert Bates, Shannon McClurg, Tianna McClurg and Millie Theobald, and Marcus Flint and Molly Britton, also collected a large haul of golds in their respective groups.
Jess Randall, Katie Alner and Brieanne Foster won overall silver, helped by a first-place finish in the balance category.
âIt was a great experience for all our gymnasts, not least Ellie Maggs and Harry Hole who had never been on a plane before,â Nikki added. âWe all did the âplane flappingâ thing with our arms outstretched when we took off from Bristol and everyone enjoyed themselves.â
Accompanying the kids were coaches Nikki Thorne, Kellie Chapman and John OâMahony, plus HOD Mark Thorne and judge Ilene Harrison.
Marie Grehan, Vickie Foster and Hanna Jay Silverthorne offered welfare support while little River Warburton offered his vocal support!
Junior: Beth Foster, Courtney Hodge (WP) 4 golds; Jess Randall, Katie Alner, Brieanne Foster (WG) silver combined, incl gold in balance; 11-16: Millie Theobald, Shannon McClurg, Tianna McClurg (WG) 3 golds; Tyler Kelly, Robert Bates (MP) 3 golds; Marcus Flint, Mollie Britton (MXP) gold combined; Spanish Level: Elisha Muscat, Fiona Cornick (WP) 4th combined; Rachel Child, Ellie Fineman (WP) 5th combined; Josh Smith, Harry Hole (MP) 3rd combined; Gemma Ponting, Abi Hipkiss, Izzy Davey (WG) 4th combined
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