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 hosts’ 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 ITV’s 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: “While we were at Malaga Airport we bumped into the entire cast of TOWIE, who were heading to Marbella to do some filming.

“They were great with our kids and we took some brilliant pictures of Joey Essex and the other cast members with our gymnasts.

“Some 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.

“The only downside was that my daughter Shanie-Redd wasn’t there, which is rare for her as she’s competed in every other international going. She stayed behind for a school leavers’ party and she’s a big, big fan of TOWIE. We hardly had the heart to tell her what she’d missed out on!”

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: “The 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.

“They were extremely pleasant and professional and clearly determined to help make acrogymnastics the success in Spain it is here.

“Despite being on foreign land they didn’t put on us at all. They’d 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!

“They then called us from McDonald’s in Yate to say they’d 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 I’m convinced they’ll end up as top coaches.”

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.

“It was a great experience for all our gymnasts, not least Ellie Maggs and Harry Hole who had never been on a plane before,” Nikki added. “We all did the ‘plane flapping’ thing with our arms outstretched when we took off from Bristol and everyone enjoyed themselves.”

Accompanying the kids were coaches Nikki Thorne, Kellie Chapman and John O’Mahony, 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!

GRANADA RESULTS

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