West Sussex girls help gym team to Euro treble

The PSG Teamgym junior squad
The PSG Teamgym junior squad

AFTER their recent success at the British leg of the International TeamGym Cup, six local girls travelled to Gran Canaria representing Portsmouth School of Gymnastics.

Anna Richardson (15 and from Chichester), Holly Waters (15, Chichester), Ellie Pacey (12, Felpham) and sisters Amy, Sophie and Mia Brown (16, 14 and nine, Chichester) were there to contest the fifth and final leg of the competition for clubs based in Europe.

The international competition, now in its fifth year, is the premier competition in the world for TeamGym clubs. Having already seen Funella Humphrey (Emsworth) and Rochelle Oxley (University of Chichester) post two huge scores with the senior PSG team, for gymnasts aged 17-plus, in the Austrian and British legs, the younger gymnasts travelled full of determination to match their senior role models.

First up came the youth age group (aged 8 -13). The PSG team, which included Ellie and Mia, produced a brilliant display to post a score of 17.40, with closest rivals Pinewood posting 17.10.

The girls then produced a fantastic streaming display on the trampette and vault to produce a score of 13.9 to extend the lead over the other British representatives Pinewood.

In their final discipline, the tumble, another faultless display saw the young Portsmouth team produce a score of 11.95. The far more experienced Pinewood team were able to produce a much higher tariff tumble which culminated in a score of 13.1. This pushed PSG into the silver position by the narrowest of scores.

The next competition saw the junior team (aged 13-17) in action. The build-up to the competition could be described only as eventful, with several gymnasts suffering serious injuries in the weeks between the British and Spanish legs. To add to the drama, a last-minute medical issue meant one of the team’s head coaches was unable to travel.

Determined to avenge the narrow defeat inflicted upon the team by the Italian national champions (0.05 points) in the British leg, the junior PSG team containing Anna, Holly, Amy and Sophie went into the competition with high hopes.

A brilliant floor display saw the club score 20.05. No other British junior team has ever broken the 20-point barrier before.

This amazing feat was backed up with 15.20 on the tumble and 14.35 on the trampette and vault to post the highest junior score ever by a British team (49.60).

Not only did this score win the junior cup, but it also proved to be the highest score of the day (youth, junior and senior) and won the girls the Gran Canaria Cup - and free accommodation for next year’s event.

When the final International Cup results are released, the three Portsmouth School of Gymnastics teams will find themselves topping the rankings in senior, junior and youth age groups. For a single club to win one European title is a huge achievement - to win all three women’s age groups is nothing short of remarkable.

The brilliant displays, which included a number of the Chichester area’s finest gymnasts, ends a fantastic year for the club and the girls are indebted to coaches Bev and Julian Such.

Next year is very important as all three teams will remain relatively unchanged and once again vie to win the British and International Cups for clubs. The European Championships take place in Reykjavik, Iceland, where all of the junior and senior girls will be in contention for full national-squad selection.