KING Edmund Gym Club celebrated the acquisition of a brand-new acrogymnastics centre with some splendid showings at the South West Championships.

While our management have had their work cut out finalising an agreement that finally makes Yate Leisure Centre our new HQ following a protracted and intense period of negotiation, the club’s prodigious young gymnasts continue to demonstrate that when it comes to business of the day on the gym floor, little, if anything, changes.

Despite many of our starlets being half the age and height of their fellow competitors, King Edmund GC dominated the more senior of the two South West tournaments in Taunton, embarking on the relatively short trip back to their South Gloucestershire homes armed with an impressive medal haul.

Outstanding performers over the weekend were Danielle Jones and Shanie-Redd Thorne, who triumphed in the senior women’s pairs section before hastily marching off with their gold medals to Lilleshall in Shropshire to team up with their Great Britain comrades for training ahead of their highly-prestigious World Games mission, which starts in Columbia at the end of the month.

There were stirring displays given by King Eddies trio Shannon McClurg, Jessica Howard and Tiana McClurg, who too claimed top prize at Taunton in the 12-18 women’s group, while Dove Strachan-Wills and Millie Battensby did likewise to take gold in the grade 4 women’s pairs with some eye-catching performances, according to coach Kellie Chapman.

Meanwhile James Offer and Kirsten Owen, elevated recently to the more demanding grade 2 mixed pairs category, were not in the least bit fazed by their new-found status as they also finished first to sound a warning to future counterparts that they’re here to stay.

There were few surprises in the 13-19 men’s pairs bracket as King Edmund stars Christopher Child and Jake Underdown gave their chances of being called up for Great Britain’s European Championships-bound squad later in the year no harm at all by also securing gold.

Elsewhere the Yate club’s Elisha Muscat and Courtney Hodge (12-18 women) and Tyler Kelly and Robert Bates (12-18 men) succeeded with ‘firsts’ in their sections, while Ryan Bennett and Molly Mason (grade 4 mixed), Marcus Flint and Harry Hole (grade 4 men) and Brieanne Foster, Emily Brown and Ellie Maggs (grade 4 women) all won their respective classes

The club’s remarkable gold medal-winning tally continued in earnest as Rhian Streeter, Anna Campbell and Megan Streeter (grade 2 women out-of-age); Finley Austin, Joe Kennedy, Joel Compton and Alex Reeves (grade 1 men) plus Lilly Herbert and Gracie Faulkner (grade 2 women out-of-age) all delighted judges and spectators with their performances.

* Other King Edmund Taunton results – grade 2 women out-of-age: Zoe Norcombe, Susanna Holt, Lucy Taylor, 4th; grade 1 women: Maddie White, Rowan Attfield, Charleigh Mills, 3rd; grade 2 women: Rebecca Adams, Katie Newman, Abigail Clothier, 8th; grade 3 women: Courtney Reeves, Hannah Pallot, Katie Sillick, 7th; grade 4 women: Emma Cornick, Jade Gibbs, Fiona Cornick, 2nd; 11-16 women: Abigail Hipkiss, Maisy Hanham, Isobel Davey, 2nd; 13-19 women: Millie Theobald, Gemma Ponting, Molly Britton.


The Sherborne-equivalent of the South West Championships afforded King Eddies’ less experienced gymnasts the chance to further their development on the competition stage, and there was delight for two of the club’s future hopefuls in the grade B women’s out-of-age category. Evie Arpino-Norvill and Gracie-May Thompson clinched gold, while Emily Roebuck and Jessica Coney finished hot on the heels of their team-mates as they sealed a silver medal.

Amelia Hale and Sian Williams, having stepped up a level for this event, were victorious too, in the disability women’s pairs section, and Millie Cox and Amy Offer did terrifically well to claim silver in the grade 1 women’s out-of-age event.

While the club’s gymnasts continue to thrive, the former bowls hall at Yate Leisure Centre is already undergoing a complete renovation, as new offices, multi-sensory room for youngsters with disabilities and learning difficulties, and top-spec acrogymnastics arena complete with a London 2012 Olympics floor, are starting to spring up.

King Edmund GC aim to take up full-time residence in the new £100,000-plus Yate International Gymnastics Centre around the start of September and club director Mark Thorne maintained: “This is certainly going to be the biggest and best acrogymnastics facility in Great Britain.”