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 ’uns 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 – her first outing as a club judge!

Coach John O’Mahony smiled: “By 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!

“For 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 they’ll encounter.”

EXCITING TESTS

And what considerable and exciting tests lie in store for so many of King Eddies’ 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 won’t 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 we’re 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 Eddies’ burgeoning reputation obviously spreads far and wide these days as we have a team travelling all the way from Turkmenistan, which isn’t 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 – Shanie-Redd Thorne and partner Danielle Jones, and Jake Underdown and Christopher Child – have their minds fixed firmly on catching the selectors’ 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 there’s all to play for, as they say, as we enter another tense and exciting spell of activity at home and across the globe.