Listed below are other national events that take place throughout each year in women's artistic gymnastics as well as the British Championships.
For young gymnasts entering the competition system there are two main competitive paths which can be taken depending on the gymnasts’ aspirations and abilities. The first is the elite route, the second the club route.
National Club Grades
In National Grades all gymnasts are age 10+: Grades 8-5 – regional qualifier leading to national final for the top 4 placed gymnasts.
Compulsory (Elite) Grades
Elite grades are organized into 3 nationally structured levels and one regionally structured level as follows:
Age 8 – Compulsory level 5 (regional only)
Age 9 – Compulsory level 4 (regional and national events)
Age 10 (or 11) – Compulsory level 3 (regional and national events)
Age 11 (or 12) – Compulsory level 2 (national event only).
The compulsory grades are marked out of 13.5 on each apparatus. The girls compete on the 4 regular pieces of apparatus plus they must also perform a Range and Conditioning exercise. This is a routine performed on the floor, sometimes with the aid of a bench, which is designed to test the gymnasts’ strength and flexibility. The routines are very difficult and include lots of held handstands, splits and lever moves.
National Voluntary Levels
In the autumn of the year most gymnasts compete in voluntary level competitions. Here the gymnasts compete moves of their choice rather than the set moves which they perform in the grades events although some categories of moves are still set and must be performed – the gymnasts have more choice about how to fulfill a particular requirement.
The National Development Plan recognizes 3 levels – 4, 3 and 2. For in age gymnasts this works in line with the compulsory grade ages so for example a 9 year old elite stream gymnast would take compulsory grade 4 in the spring and compete in level 4 in age in the autumn. However the levels are open to all age groups on similar rules.
The levels work as follows:
Age 9 – Level 4 in age
Age 10 – Level 3 in age
Level 4 out of age
Age 11 – Level 2 in age
Level 4 or 3 out of age
Gymnasts 12 plus out of age can also compete at any of the regional levels events. It is direct entry to the regional event at level 2.
British Challenge Cup
A gymnasts’ place at the British Championships is not automatically secure forever. If a gymnast fails to achieve a particular score they are relegated to the Challenge Cup and have to try and re-qualify from that competition back to the full British Championships.
The British Challenge Cup is a competition organized into espoir, junior and senior sections as per the full British Championships and it gives gymnasts who have not passed compulsory grade 2 the chance to, firstly, compete in a national event judged on full FIG code, but also nowadays the chance to qualify for the full British Championships. Gymnasts often enter the Challenge Cup when they have finished their Club Grades but they can enter before this point, as long as they have attained the minimum age of 12 in the year of the event. Each year a score is set and gymnasts achieving that score in any of the divisions are able if they wish to move up to the full British Championships the following year.
Espoir National Championships
Gymnasts qualify to the Espoir Championships from Compulsory level 2. They stay at Espoir level for 2 years before qualifying for the British Championships. Gymnasts are aged 12-13 years old in this competition and compete on Vault, Bars, Beam and Floor as well as completing a Range and Conditioning exercise.
The national team Championships take place once a year. Each club is allowed to enter a team or more, including gymnast that are at an elite national level. Please click here for more information