By Simon Parkinson

KING Edmund Gym Club stars turned on the style again to warm-up for November’s British Tournament showpiece with some tremendous displays in the Sharlene Slater International Cup.

A party of more than 30 of the Yate Leisure Centre-based club’s more experienced performers descended on Temple Park Centre at South Shields for the popular annual event, which is held in memory of the South Tyneside host club’s former world champion and coach Sharlene Slater, who lost a long battle against leukaemia in 2008 at the age of just 22.

While Shanie-Redd Thorne demonstrated she’d lost none of the sparkle and form, as part of a brand-new trio, that has won her World Games and European Championship titles in recent times, King Eddies were delighted by the displays too of their many other victorious teams, not least the one comprising Dove Strachan-Wills and Millie Battensby, who performed their new routines for the first time in tandem to claim gold in the 12-18 age category.

With a glittering medal haul already behind her at home and overseas, there was no stopping 18-year-old Thorne once more as she helped form a new trio involving Tiana McClurg and Jess Howard to land the top prize in a competitive junior women’s section.

Head coach Nikki Thorne, who made the long but very worthwhile haul to the North East with fellow coach Kellie Chapman and two representative judges, said of the latest success: “It is very satisfying to see all the hard work that has been put into ensuring King Eddies remains one of the leading lights in world acrogymnastics is paying off.

“It’s encouraging for all of us, the gymnasts going out and competing and the people behind the scenes driving it all on, to see the club continuing to go from strength to strength, from the tots and juniors at the very start of it all to our high achievers.

“We’ve a great tradition of successful women’s pairs down the years – Maiken (Thorne) and Mollie (Grehan), and Shanie-Redd and Danielle (Jones) among them – and it’s nice from a family perspective that Dove is a first cousin to Shanie-Redd and Maiken and is doing so well with the help of Millie.”

Chapman acknowledged too: “You’d never have known Shanie-Redd, Tiana and Jess were competing for the first time as a trio; they were excellent, as were Dove and Millie who also showed off their new moves for the first time and looked a really accomplished partnership, one that promises positive things for the future.

“These performances should put everyone in good heart for the British Tournament at Fenton Manor (Stoke) over the weekend of November 15 and 16.”

The South Tyneside tournament produced more medals for the King Edmund team, with Marcus Flint and Harry Hole sweeping to first place in the 12-18 combined men’s pairs and Beth Dix and Chloe Gunter clinching a top spot too in the senior women’s combined event.

There was a second position for Connor O’Keefe and Jaden Howard for their efforts in the 11-16 dynamic men’s pairs, while Georgia Hennessy, Maya Fox and Zoe Orchard struck gold in the grade 5 women’s event and Rachel Child, Emily Brown and Caelyn Walker weren’t far behind by claiming silver in the same competition.

Abi Hipkiss, Emily Dix and Izzy Davey were gold medallists in the 12-18 women’s combined event; Jade Gibbs and Elise King took third in the women’s 11-16 dynamic category, while Finlay Cochraine and Kirsten Owen achieved likewise in the mixed pairs class in the same age bracket.

Chelsea Kent, Grace Monchar and Paige Weeks (5th), and Courtney Reeves, Hannah Pallot and Sasha Sage (9th) all competed well in the 11-16 balance competition.