Gymnastics is a sport that can only really inspire awe in the talent of the individuals who perform it. Today Label Sport take a look back to the Men’s Gymnastics Trials that took place in November, these trials were to assess who would become the National Teams for this year of competitions. Daniel Connoly was there to tell us all about it. 

When we think of gymnastics, we think of the Olympic games. We think of Louis Smith. We think of an amazing sport which many people would argue surpasses our biomechanical capacities. However, it is a sport that is rarely seen live. But fortunately, here at Loughborough – as those who also witnessed the event on Wednesday 19th November will agree – we really were in for a treat.

For nearly 3 hours next to powerbase an audience of near to 150 were left speechless. Many never having seen such strength and control, and for the girls, likely not having seen so many abs. This was, of course, the men’s trials for nationals which would take place just two days later – a contest deciding who makes the A team, and who makes the B team. However, what struck me most was the spirit of friendship amongst these lads who clearly suffer day-in and day-out with each others. They were a unit. They were continuously supporting each other despite fighting for their place in the A team. This was clear from the start when Clark Gould hit his leg mid-air on the parallel bars. After rapturous support from team mates he pulled it back with just one of his amazing performances. These often isolated athletes were clearly extremely supportive, and respectful as shown by Rob Payne’s touching speech where he thanked the support of the coaches, and audience for turning up. Having said that, he was clearly the veteran, and more clearly, the ‘lad’ of the group by saying how much he appreciated the girl’s attendance despite the poor ratio of boy: girls here at Loughborough. He also took into his stride the challenge of following Sam Oldham’s world-class high bar performance scoring 14.6 with an excellent display of acrobatics.

The atmosphere throughout was a totally new experience. Rather than the war-cry’s of support seen in Rugby and Football, it felt like all the roof in the powerbase building was silent. This was because everybody was clearly astonished by the team’s displays. The only noise was the echoing of modern-day r’n’b and tunes which were clearly motivational, but not nearly as motivational as the audience who throughout played their part. It really was a performance as the girls also showed off their capabilities on the beam whilst the first break took place. Following breaks showed tumbling at its best and kept the crowd engaged. This was seen in the final two events: the pommel horse and the infamous rings. The latter is perhaps what we know best about gymnastics. This was the ultimate show of strength where Will Trood and Sam Oldham stood out in an astonishing closing ceremony.

The next day the teams were announced:

A team – Clark Gould, Harry Carter, Rob Payne, Sam Oldham, Will Trood.

B team – Gabriel Hannah, Jaron Morgan, Matt O’connor, Rob Sansby, Ross Morey.

All could have been in the A team. And this is shown by the fact that these lads cemented 2nd and 4th place in nationals. The best Loughborough have seen. I can only applaud these lads, and as the audience will understand, I have a new-found respect for Gymnastics. I thoroughly encourage anyone to give it a go, as the atmosphere amongst the squad was clear to see. Even as a beginner, it is clear that this club is a friendly and professional club which will not only make you fitter, but a more confident individual as a consequence of the coaches and members themselves.

Daniel Connoly



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