By Simon Parkinson
KING Edmund Gym Club coaches have expressed pride and delight after seeing their star performers cap a momentous year by securing more major international honours.
The Yate club’s fab four, Shanie-Redd Thorne, Danielle Jones, Christopher Child and Jake Underdown, entered the latest European Acrogymnastics Championships in Portugal as Great Britain representatives brimming with confidence following a series of top-class performances at home and overseas.
And they didn’t let down as Shanie-Redd and Danielle took top prize in the senior women’s category, while club-mates Chris and Jake did exceptionally well to secure a silver medal in the 12-18 men’s age bracket.
The girls’ gold medal-winning exploits at the tournament in Odivelas, Lisbon, brought the curtain down on an “amazing year” for the duo. Three months ago they were crowned senior pairs champions at the World Games in Colombia, having already established themselves as No.2 in the world rankings earlier in the year.
The boys’ silver success at the same Europeans proved a poignant one as 15-year-old Jake had only a year earlier suffered a career-threatening broken-shoulder injury while practising with partner Chris.
The pair had claimed top prize in the 11-16 stand-alone dynamic discipline at the 2011 European Championships in Bulgaria, having entered that competition as 2010 world champions while performing in the same age category.
Now, after a long and often painful road back to top-class acro action, they have added an overall-silver to their medal collection, pipped to the post only by Russian aces Igor Subbotin and Aleksei Veprev. Small wonder their proud parents and King Edmund club coaches, Kirsty Underdown and Sarah Child, have been glowing with pride.
Kirsty confessed: “Seeing the boys achieve a silver medal was all the more special after what happened to Jake with his broken shoulder. He couldn’t even lie down for the first three months after it happened, so for both to bounce back from that so well is extremely rewarding.”
Sarah added: “The boys had to learn new moves as a result of Jake’s injury, so given all they’ve been through their silver medal win was a tremendous achievement.”
As for Shanie-Redd and Danielle, they enjoyed a titanic tussle from start to finish with their Belgian counterparts Nikki Snel and Eline De Smedt, in a sizzling senior section at the Europeans. The teams were tied on 56.920 points heading into the final after the Great Britain twosome had won the balance discipline, before roles were reversed the following day as the Belgians gained revenge by snatching top spot in the dynamic event.
The crucial combined final showdown a further 24 hours on ended with the King Eddies aces emerging emphatic winners. Shanie-Redd and Danielle also went on to claim silver and bronze medals in the individual balance and dynamic routines respectively over the ensuing two days.
King Eddies director Mark Thorne insisted: “The four gymnasts have demonstrated what can be achieved if you put your heart and soul into something like this. It’s been a great year for the club, with a new and first-class facility at Yate Leisure Centre and the support of a top-quality coaching team.”
Head coach Nikki Thorne remarked: “King Eddies have enjoyed lots of good times down the years but the last few months have been particularly special. The achievements mean we’re likely to attract more gymnasts and coaches from across the world to our training camps.”