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London Gymnasts set the World on Fire


At our Night of Stars Evening back in November the London Region watched in awe as our wonderful acrobats performed with precision, artistry and breath-taking skills.

The announcement of the partnerships selected to represent Great Britain in the 9th Acrobatic Gymnastics World Age Group came as no surprise to us in the London Region. Our partnerships from London Clubs; Richmond Gymnastics Association, Heathrow Gymnastics Club and London Borough of Hillingdon Gymnastics Club made up the majority of the GB Team.
Anyone who has watched the gymnasts from our London Clubs will know their skill and dedication but travelling to Putian City, in China is a daunting experience for any young gymnasts. The youngest age group in the Championships was the 11-16 Category. These young gymnasts after travelling around the World had to get used to different food, unfamiliar training venues and being thrust into the Global spotlight.
Angelique McManus from Heathrow was selected to judge at the Championships.  
First up in the Championships was the Qualification Rounds. With Team GB being so strong this was an anxious time for our London Partnerships. Only one pair or group could go through per category so everyone had to be at the top of their game to secure that coveted finals spot.
In the Mixed Pairs routine a beautifully performed balance routine saw Heathrow Partnership; fifteen year old Jordan Franklin and eleven year old Ella Hanna Sanz, score a 9.20 artistic score (the highest in qualification), an unfortunate 0.30 penalty saw Jordan and Ella score 28.00 whilst the pair from Russia scored 28.30. This placed our Heathrow Pair in 2nd position with the other GB pair in 3rd placing even more importance on their dynamic routine to ensure the finals spot. Every tenth needed to be fought for, for this routine it was vital to be as close to perfection as possible. Jordan and Ella yet again proved themselves scoring a superb 9.300 for execution the highest of all 16 teams in the qualification round. A well deserved final total of 55.650 and that all important Finals position secured.
In the final a score of 27.450 saw Jordan and Ella take the World Age Group BRONZE medal, this young partnership certainly made the World sit up and watch.
The Heathrow group comprising of Max Crawford, Leo Keenan, Jacob Robinson and Daniel Axford was an extremely young partnership with two of the members only being aged eleven. Competing in qualification with quality groups from USA, Russia & China the boys needed to be at the top of their game, no small ask for such young gymnasts competing internationally. However, two outstanding routines secured the boys their place in the final. The competition awaiting them in the final was a much older Russian group. In the final everything went to plan for the boys, a score of 27.500 saw them rewarded with a World Age Group SILVER medal, a brilliant 0.900 in front of the third placed USA team. The boys group will be able to take so many positives from their experience and hopefully can soon turn that Silver into GOLD!
Heathrow's Harriet Copperthwaite and Marlena Kroliczek were competing in the hotly contested 12-18 Year Old Women's Pair Category. For this event there were nineteen partnerships fighting for one of the eight places in the final. This included another strong GB partnership so it was vital the girls worked to ensure everything went to plan. After a great balance routine 27.850 for their dynamic routine secured a total of 55.300 to qualify in first place to the final, 0.500 ahead of the Portuguese pair who placed 2nd.
In the final yet again the girls produced a breathtaking routine winning the SILVER and showing the World just how beautiful their work is. A well deserved medal, for continued dedication to their sport.
Kieran and CallumLondon Borough of Hillingdon Gymnastics Club certainly had something to celebrate with their first ever partnership being selected to represent Team GB at the World Age Group Championships. Callum Portugal-Walker and Kieran Blower (12-18 Men's Pair) had a good role model in 2010 World Champion & Coach Alex Uttley who could share his experience with the boys. In a nail-biting qualification it was the two GB partnerships that set the pace both pairs with excellent routines. With the final scores calculated it was success for the Hillingdon pair topping qualification by just 0.05 and straight through to the finals. For the final it couldn't have gone smoother, more celebration for Team GB as the boys impressed by winning the GOLD!
Callum (17, Base) told London Gymnastics,
 "Winning the World Championships in China and representing my country is something that will stay with me forever, I can't thank everyone enough, especially my coaches for making all this possible."
We spoke to Coach Alex Uttley about his partnership's performance,
 "I am so proud of what these two young men have achieved in the short time they have been together. They have worked really hard and made their Coach, family and friends really proud. They are an inspiration to all the gymnasts at our club who want to follow in their footsteps and they will now be working towards the British and the Europeans next year in the 13-19 Age Group."


Scarlett Tabby and KittyFor experienced veterans of the International stage (despite their youth) Tabitha Dawson, Scarlett Wright and Kitty Williams (Richmond GA) it was business as usual. A huge qualification round saw twenty-nine women's groups fighting to showcase their routine in the final. On the day the Richmond trio just left the others trailing in their wake. First in Balance, first in tempo, the girls just needed to focus on the main goal, a clean routine in the finals. As ever the girls didn't disappoint 9.100 for an execution score in a beautifully performed routine. The other partnerships just had to stand and watch as the girls put on a master class in performance. Huge celebrations for the girls as their well deserved GOLD medals ensured a World Age Group Championship title.

Aidan Lim Bertie Cardillo Zallo Alex Papworth and Christian CoxAnyone who watched the Richmond Men's Group of Aidan Lim, Bertie Cardillo-Zallo, Alex Papworth and Christian Cox perform at our Night of Stars knows that these boys know how to put on a show. The strong Russian partnership had the edge in the balance routine, scoring just above the Richmond group. In their dynamic routine a score of 27.800 propelled them into first place and a coveted finals spot. With 0.150 separating Great Britain and Russia; it set the stage for a nail biting finals.
In the finals Portugal, Russia and Kazhakstan posted top level scores. It was left to our London Boys to conclude the final knowing they needed to have a near flawless routine to take the title against such strong opposition. For the coaches and parents, the routine and wait for the scores must have seemed endless! As the score of 27.750 came in there were celebrations all around as the boys took GOLD and the World Age Group Championship title by the smallest of margins with just 0.05 separating them from second place Kazhakstan. This group seems to get stronger and more confident each time they step on the floor, a joy to watch.
Aidan Lim, aged 13, reported,
"It was amazing to be selected to represent GB at the World Championships. To win gold at the Worlds was a fantastic achievement for the team."
Head of Acrobatics at Richmond, Mel Sanders, told us
"Two World Championship partnerships, and a bronze at the highest level of international gymnastics – what can I say...?  Outstanding!  I am so proud of all the gymnasts – they performed clean routines and were wonderful to watch.  They all represented Richmond and Team GB brilliantly."
In the 13-19 Women's Pair Grace Tucker and Lucy Gamble of Richmond were battling with another strong GB partnership to make the final. On this occasion, despite a strong balance routine, it was not to be the second GB partnership finishing just ahead of the girls. Seventh in the World is still a fantastic ranking, the girls will take away many positives from the experience which will help them as they continue on their international journey. 
The 13-19 Women's group was a hotly contested affair with 21 groups stepping up to perform in the qualifications. As with the women's pair it was the second GB pair that would be the strongest threat in the passage to the Event finals. Beatrice Richmond, Gabrielle Potter and Camilla Jeffcock (Richmond GA) were our representatives. In the Balance routine the second GB partnership were ahead. It came down to the dynamic routine to secure the finals spot. An outstanding dynamic routine saw the girls beat their GB team mates. However with the scores combined the Richmond group were left agonisingly short, 0.05 behind the 2nd GB group. A ranking of 5th in the World sent a message that this is a strong partnership, back to the gym for the girls to work, prepare and perfect, we will certainly hear more of this trio in the future. 
The 25th Acrobatic World Championships took place in China immediately after the Age Group gymnasts had competed. Great Britain has a strong history of International success in this discipline, meaning the eyes of the World would be on our gymnasts.
With strong groups from China, Russia and GB the Richmond partnership of Katie Fearon, Roxanna Parker and Jennifer Bailey (Richmond) would need to be at the top of their game. Experienced veteran Jenny Bailey was working with new gymnasts after the retirement of Cicely and Josie. Although a new young partnership the girls ended the qualification ahead of the second GB group with an impressive 2nd place in their dynamic routine. For the finals a fifth place finish was impressive on their first outing, the girls can now work together to develop their difficulty and no doubt post some impressive results in their hunt for an International medal. 
Mixed pair, Lewis Walker and Isabella Montagna (Richmond) have a great track record in this event having been Junior World Champions in 2014. They wowed the crowd at London Gymnastics Night of Stars with the maturity and precision of their performance.  The Russians were the hot favourites with the Russian top, Marina Chernova, being the only senior World Champion returning to defend her title. Lewis and Isabella had a slip in their first routine that left them in eighth place – however the next two routines were very strong 3rd in the dynamic and third in the combined) and they moved up the positions and qualified in fifth place. This partnership know how to fight back from disappointment, their professionalism shines through. For the final the score was back to zero, and Lewis and Isabella performed brilliantly to score 27.740, enough for the BRONZE medal behind the Russians and the USA. Junior World Champions in 2014 and World BRONZE medallists just two years later, the future certainly looks bright for this artistic pairing.
Conor Sawenko, Conor Tate, Adam Upcott and Lewis Watts (Heathrow) are already recipients of our London Gymnastics Platinum Award, the highest award we can bestow upon our International gymnasts. This group is business like in their approach knowing exactly what they need to do to hit their targets. The difficulty of the Chinese group put them out of the reach of anyone in qualification but after three routines the GB group sat in an excellent 2nd position. With their artistry scores they beat China in every routine, with time the difficulty will come. After the Finals the boys ended the day in BRONZE medal position, third in the World and an agonising 0.05 from the score of the Israel Group in second. Hopefully time is on their side and with the boys can work together, aspiring to that coveted Gold medal position.
After a successful World Championships all three partnerships qualified a place for Great Britain at the 2017 World Games to be held in Poland.
Chair of Richmond Gymnastics Association Phillip Jeffcock was fortunate enough to travel to China to support the team. He was overwhelmed by the professionalism shown by all the athletes.
Chair of Acro, Christine Brockbank & Chair of the Region, Ben Murphy, were yet again impressed with the success of our London Clubs on the World scene.
London Gymnastics would like to thank and congratulate all gymnasts, coaches and judges that attended the World & World Age Group Championships. Your dedication to your discipline is an inspiration to us all, we look forward to your continued success. With such strong competition in the London region our future is looking very bright. 

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