KING Edmund Gym Club are braced for another upsurge of membership interest thanks to the stunning success of Shanie-Redd Thorne and Danielle Jones at the World Games, writes the Gazette.
The teenage duo, locked in senior women’s pairs combat, became the first partnership to win a gold medal for Great Britain in the spectacular acrogymnastics event at the Games, despite experiencing an alarming fall in their opening balance routine which so nearly cost them a place in the final.
Shanie-Redd, 16, from Yate, and 14-year-old Danielle, from Chipping Sodbury, quickly and determinedly dusted themselves down and victory in the ensuing dynamic discipline proved just enough to secure them a spot in the combined final in third place overall. There were to be no more slip-ups as a sparkling performance when it truly mattered swept them to gold against all the odds in the face of fierce challenges from Ukraine (silver) and Belarus (bronze).
The success at Cali in Colombia – the pinnacle achievement to date in King Edmund GC’s illustrious 30-year history – could not have come at a more significant time. With a burgeoning membership list totalling more than 1,000 youngsters, the thriving club are in the throes of moving from the Sports Shed on Armstrong Way in Yate to the one-time bowls hall at Yate Leisure Centre, which is undergoing expansive refurbishment to the tune of around £100,000.
The new Yate International Gymnastics Centre, which is scheduled to open on September 9, promises to provide the biggest and best acrogymnastics complex in Britain, and with top domestic and international medals continuing to be won for fun by club starlets at various age levels, demand to seize membership spots is set to soar.
The South Gloucestershire club, which also has satellite centres based at Pomphrey Hill, Bradley Stoke and Emersons Green, has long taken in children from as young as 18 months old and head coach Nikki Thorne, who is also Shanie-Redd’s proud mum, admitted: “The club’s profile is increasing all the time and the girls’ success at the World Games can only enhance our reputation.
“It has been an emotional and draining experience but so very worthwhile, and with the infrastructure we have here at the new centre in Yate, we can only go from strength to strength. All the parents, coaches and staff have been fantastic and they deserve a lot of the credit.”
Shanie-Redd, who with Danielle’s assistance clinched a bronze medal in the junior world championships in Orlando last summer, as well as two World Cup medals earlier this year, said of their Cali triumph: “It can’t get any better than this in our sport at this time, although there’s always talk about acrogymnastics becoming an Olympic sport some day. Our school (Yate International Academy) has been brilliant in allowing us to train twice a day and catch-up with our schoolwork at other times.
“We went on last in the final and because I’d seen the scores from the other three competing countries beforehand, I felt we had a great chance when it came to us.”
Danielle added: “I really didn’t expect us to come first, especially after suffering the fall in our first routine. We thought that was it, all over, but we came back and it was incredibly exciting to win.
“In the final we performed to this fun, lively piece of music, as we had done for two years in training. All of the spectators started clapping and cheering and they had to turn the music up because of the noise. We didn’t know until afterwards why the crowd were so enthusiastic, as none of us had known the music was actually Colombian! It was a stroke of luck that really helped us.”
The current British senior acro champions faced more adversity and confusion before the tournament even began. Having already arrived in Columbia and settled in their hotel, the girls and their mentors were informed by International Gymnastics Federation chiefs that the arena was not in a suitable enough state to stage any of the gymnastic disciplines due to air conditioning problems which caused temperatures to settle above the stipulated requirement.
The ribbon event was cancelled altogether but mercifully Shanie-Redd, Danielle and their acrogymnastic counterparts from rival nations were given the green light to compete just hours before the scheduled start, following two days of frantic and, at times, heated negotiation with organising bodies.
Shanie-Redd’s father Mark, who is King Edmund GC club manager, said: “It was an unsatisfactory build-up to a major world event and given the turmoil and upset it led to, our girls did extremely well to keep their heads and perform as they did. In fact I think they turned it to their advantage.
“Acrogymnastics is not yet an Olympic sport but it’s getting there and there is a distinct possibility that this fantastic new headquarters of ours will be the launch-pad for future Olympic champions.”
Meanwhile former King Eddies gymnast Farrah Jones told of her joy at watching her daughter Danielle clinch that World Games gold in tandem with Shanie-Redd.
Two decades ago the Gazette reported that Farrah claimed bronze in the Junior World Championships in Beijing and she stayed up well into the early hours of the morning to watch, via an internet link on her television set, her golden girl reach the summit.
Farrah, who lost her voice in cheering on her daughter from their Chipping Sodbury home, glowed: “It was very emotional and we all feel proud and overwhelmed about what has happened.
TENSE AND EXCITING
“The World Games is such a big event – it’s an Olympic-equivalent for non-Olympic sports – and for the girls to perform as they did to such heights was just amazing.
“There were around 15 of us – family, including my husband Paul; King Edmund coaches and friends – watching with us and it was extremely tense and exciting.”
Shanie-Redd’s gold sparked memories of her sister Maiken’s achievements at the World Games in Taiwan in 2009, when she and Mollie Grehan did superbly well to win a bronze medal for GB.
Mark enthused: “It’s amazing that sisters have won medals in consecutive games.”
Shanie-Redd and Danielle have little chance to take in the enormity of their success, though, as they are already preparing hard for the European Championships in Portugal this October.