Children perform at top grassroots event
WEALD of Kent Gymnastics Club hosted the biggest grassroots gymnastics competition to take place in Tunbridge Wells this year on Sunday.
The competition is unique in Kent, in that it brings together gymnasts from clubs, schools and leisure centres, representing a golden opportunity for young gymnasts to gain experience and find their feet in the competitive arena.
Youngsters aged six to 14 took part in various categories dependent on experience. They had to compete floor routines of a least ten moves and perform two vaults, with the more advanced levels floor routines being choreographed to music
Deputy chairman of Olympics organising committee, Sir Keith Mills, took time out from his pressing duties to watch and present medals in the afternoon.
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"It went brilliantly – a lot of boys and girls went home happy from a big Olympic-style competition," said the club's head coach Jacky Leman. "Everyone watched each other and also watched displays from our older girls in between rounds.
"But what we were trying to impress on Keith Mills was that we need better provisions for kids to do sports like gymnastics.
"There are very few dedicated facilities in the area, but gymnastics is the ideal first sport and so many top athletes started their careers as gymnasts."
As well as the large number from Weald of Kent GC, there were also gymnasts from Kent College Gymnastics Academy, Tunbridge Wells, Dartford, Extension and Thanet Gymnastic Clubs, the Weald of Kent Grammar School, Sevenoaks and Chiddingstone Primary Schools and the Angel Leisure Centre.
Between five rounds of competition, the audience were entertained by displays of sports acrobatics and competitive skipping performed by the Weald of Kent Gymnastics Club Display team.
The East Peckham Parish Council chairman, Peter Street, and the clerk to the parish council, Karen Bell, made the presentations of medals in the morning.
In the afternoon the club welcomed Sir Keith Mills and former Olympian Chris Bowles of Tonbridge Judo Club to make the presentations.
Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were presented in age groups with ribbons for the fourth, fifth and sixth places and all gymnasts were presented with a participation certificate.
Golds were achieved in the intermediates by Weald members Illona Lorett Krenca, Abi Miles, Lewis Swaby, Paige Beck (2), Charlotte Saunders and Harry Maw, in Bronze level by Erin Beck and in silver level by Courtney Goodwin. Sukey Callandine collected a gold in the novice category.
Silver medals in novice went to Ollie Wright, Lexi Gentry-Potter, Nandini Magoon, and in the intermediates to Mya Moreton and Corina Wood. In Keysteps Isaac Woolard and Jessica Ritchie got silver.
Bronze medals were awarded to MacKenzie Brewster, Rosie Morris and Nicola Bentall in Keysteps. Dillon Dew, Riley Medhurst and Scott Paige won them at novice level, while Skyla Eldridge at intermediate level, Lucy Gill at Bronze level and Isla Boorman at Silver level all took bronze medals.
Many volunteers gave up their Sunday to help, and the head coach of the Weald of Kent Gymnastics Club, Jacky Leman, is grateful to them.
Full results are on the club's website www.wealdgym nastics.org.uk