A young, local gymnastics team is celebrating after an inspiring win at the TeamGym British Championships last month. The team of four travelled to Fentor Manor, in Stoke on Trent after qualifying for the British finals when theyimpressed the judges back in the summer.
The team, known as ‘Richmondshire Orbit’, competed in the Integrated Level 1 event where half of the gymnasts in the team must have a disability or impairment. In TeamGym,gymnasts compete in micro teams of between three and five to perform ‘runs’ of skills on the tumble track and trampette.
This talented team of four includes twelve-year-old Henry Chapman from Ingleby Barwick, siblings Isaac (aged 12) and India Clay (aged 11) from Thirsk and eleven-year-old Hollie Bowers from Hunton. They have been training and competing together regionally for the last few years and know and understand each other well, which is key to success in TeamGym.
Head coach of Richmondshire Gymnastics Club and mum of team members, Isaac and India, Rebecca Clay said: “Isaac was born with a genetic condition called Williams Syndrome. This limits the range of movement in many of his joints and the time it takes him to process his movements. He has a heart condition and hearing loss, visual and spatial issues as well as learning difficulties. Isaac loves all aspects of gymnastics but in particular TeamGym. Doing this sport has given him a sense of belonging and friendship but most importantly it isgreat for his health; his strength, flexibility and range of movement. As a parent, I want to keep him involved and active as long as possible whilst inspiring and showing others that disability shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to achieving your goals. When Isaac was born, I could never have dreamed that one day he would be competing in a British Championship, and then the team go and take the title. It was an emotional but incredible day for us, not only as a family but as a club as it was our first ever British title.”
Sara Bowers, is mum to Hollie and she explained: “Hollie was born with a duplex kidney on her right side which lead to them operating on her when she was just 18 months old and she regularly needed antibiotics in her early years. She was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of seven and ASD aged ten years old. Being on the spectrum brings many challenges for Hollie and affects how she sees life and deals with certain situations. She struggles to deal with crowds so being able to get up and compete in front of people actually takes a lot of energy and can often lead to her having sensory shutdowns. However, when she sets foot in the gym she feels at home. It’s her happy place and she feels like she fits in and belongs to something so she can just be herself - the true and remarkable person she is”
Richmondshire Gymnastics Club is looking to further develop its opportunities and success in TeamGym after all four of the micro teams they put forward achieved the qualifying standard back in July. They would love to have their own dedicated tumble track to practise on as they often have to use the facilities of other clubs, such as Durham and Newcastle, as big competitions like this approach. They are appealing to local businesses and the wide community to help them offer more opportunities to children in the area.
Rebecca added: “We are still a fairly new club to TeamGym and were the only club in the whole competition who don’t have their own dedicated tumbling track. Earlier this month,we also sent a team of gymnasts to try out for a TeamGym North of England squad and again they were up against children who use these tracks week-in-week-out. Many of our elite squad members have the talent and skills to go a long way in this sport, but it is more challenging when you aren’t getting the time practising on the actual tracks used in competitions. The track costs almost £20,000 so we have a long way to go in our fundraising efforts but this British title has just inspired us as coaches, parents and gymnasts more than ever.”
A crowdfunding page has been set up to raise funds for a dedicated track for its facility at Colburn Leisure Centre and the club is appealing to businesses and the wider community to support them in their fundraising mission