After the success of the GB gymnastics team at the 2012 Olympics, youth participation in the sport is at an all-time high. Kids all over the country are joining their local gyms and dreaming of Olympic glory, but what does it take to succeed as a gymnast?

Firstly it should be noted that gymnastics is an incredibly technical sport and requires many hours of practice to even develop the basics. It’s therefore not uncommon for children younger than 12 to train in excess of 25 hours a week. And although this has pushed up the standard of British Gymnastics phenomenally quickly, sadly this is often at the expense of the gymnasts’ education. Unlike many sports which are entwined with the national curriculum there is little space for gymnastics in schools. Training is done at private clubs and often there is a decision to be made on whether to pursue an education or a career in gymnastics.

For this reason there is much scepticism by parents when it comes to enrolling their children in elite gymnastics. For a minority the sport pays dividends, but what happens if you never make that Olympic team or win that Olympic medal after committing your life to the sport? Is there a way to combine education and gymnastics?

The answer is Loughborough Students Gymnastics club.

At the recent 2014 British Championships, 10 male and female gymnasts represented the University and we had the largest male representation from any club in the country.  The team had a great weekend and after the first subdivision a Loughborough Gymnast led on every piece of male apparatus.

Following the All-Around competition, an unprecedented 4 Loughborough gymnasts placed in the top 20 with Chris O’Connor 10th, Will Trood 12th, Robert Payne 16th and Harry Owen 18th. In the Master’s finals the following day Chris placed 8th on floor and Harry Carter 5th on Vault.

A few weeks after the competition the club received an email from the mother of a young gymnast who also competed that weekend. She commented on how we ‘inspired and impressed her son’ with ‘our ability and team spirit.’ She also mentioned how her son, currently 12 years old, is now adamant he wants to attend the University and compete for the gymnastics team.

The club is extremely proud of this, and hope that we continue to enact the London 2012 legacy and inspire a generation.

Ella Stanbrook


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