British Gymnastics
17th January 2014

boys

2014 is an exciting year for our elite male artistic gymnasts. With the junior and senior European Championships, the highly anticipated Commonwealth Games and World Championships around the corner, it is set to be a big year for gymnastics. On top of this it is a vital step towards the Rio Olympics so there’s a lot to prepare for and the pressure is on.

We caught up with Head National Coach, Eddie Van Hoof and Junior National Coach, Barry Collie to talk through the year and what challenges lie ahead of them.

For the senior gymnasts, Eddie explains the first milestone is the British Championships and from then on the competitions just keep coming…

“In the immediate future we are looking to prepare all the team for the British Championships in March. It’s quite an exciting prospect again for everyone being in Liverpool and on the podium. It really sets the tone to then go into the European Championships in Sofia in May, where both our junior and senior teams are defending their titles. The real focus now is on giving everyone the challenge to come back with gold.”

“This then immediately leads into the Commonwealth Games in July in Glasgow, which I know splits the team into the home nations but we are hoping for real success in terms of profile and media interest. The gymnasts continue their main preparation as we move into the World Championships in China in October which is obviously by rights the first qualifier for Rio 2016. Only the top 24 teams from the 2014 Worlds will then qualify for the 2015 World Championships so it’s very important to make this cut to help to qualify a full team for the next Olympics.”

As each year goes by, more top gymnasts move up into the senior category and Eddie points out no one is certain of a place on the team with so much competition…

“There is a real challenge for places now, not even the Olympians from 2012 can be complacent. The younger boys (18/19 years old) are really pushing on and even below that our juniors will be close to pushing everyone on in the next few years.”

“Nile Wilson for example will look to compete in the Junior Europeans and then step up and look to compete as a senior for the Commonwealth Games and Worlds if he is ready. So the pool of boys to choose from for our teams is increasing all the time.”

And as for the pressure to win after their success of the last few years, Eddie is fully aware of it and will make sure the team is prepared…

“We cope with the pressure by living with it every day; the expectations are there and there’s no hiding away from it. We are going to do our best but now we are going out there to win and that’s what competition is all about.  We are trying to make sure that the gymnasts mind set and their culture is one for excellence going forward and this will hopefully promote a British style of gymnastics to continue the success they’ve already had.”

For the men’s junior National Coach, Barry Collie, a big event in 2014 is the Junior European Championships which take place every two years…

 “The junior’s main competition of the year is the European Championships. There is huge expectation that we are going to win the team title again for the fourth time in a row. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes though and it’s never an easy task. Each generation of gymnasts that come through are different so it’s always a challenge. We have the English and British Championships in March which will be selections for the competition and then an under 18 four way held in our country, these will all be a good test. We try to prepare the boys at a young age so if they are good enough they can do two Europeans and gain vital experience.”

It is then the results from the junior Europeans that then dictate the athletes set to represent Britain as the prestigious Youth Olympic Games in China in August…

“The Youth Olympics Games is the mini version of the Olympics that only takes place every four years. Our highest scoring athlete at the Junior Europeans who is 1997/1998 born will be selected. It is a great chance for us to compete against the likes of China and Japan and fantastic experience for our gymnasts.”

And on what gives them an edge over their competitors…

“As a country we travel and compete a lot, experiencing different countries and environments which helps the team to adapt and perform under pressure. All internationals were done before 2014, so this year is about selection and coming together as a team.  There’s always pressure, everyone wants to beat us but myself and the boys believe we can do it and without belief there is nothing.”

“Our philosophy as a team is about a journey, it’s not about just focussing on the Europeans or the Youth Olympics, it’s about every single day in the gym and getting the most out of the gymnasts so they can be their very best. It’s not just the one or five gymnasts that make selection for the competitions; it’s the 30 that were involved in it, the club and the coaches.”

You can catch the best British boys battle it out at the Echo Arena in Liverpool at the 2014 British Championships from the 28th – 30th March. Tickets are now on sale and selling fast so don’t miss out and book now.