On the 17th November the Veterans British Championships takes place at the Benfield Sports Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne. The competition includes four disciplines, men's and women’s artistic, trampoline gymnastics, tumbling and acro with competitors from the age of 18 to 60.
Ahead of the competition British Gymnastics caught up with 37 year old Claire Emerson who is competing alongside Gemma Evans and Alexa Gardner in a trio in the acro event. Claire is a regular competitor at the Veterans British Championships and BG set out to find out how she is still involved in the sport and what keeps her going…
When and how did you first get involved in gymnastics?
I was taken along to tumble tots when I was very small and it all went from there. I had several years of not doing gymnastics when I was at university but apart from that have been involved in the sport ever since.
How different is gymnastics now from when you were younger?
It all seems so much more difficult now -everything hurts more and even if the mind is willing the body usually isn't! I'm also much more scared of everything - I didn't used to have any fear as a kid. Also fitting in training alongside work and other commitments can be a bit of a juggling act but I love it.
Why did you decide to take part in the veteran’s competition?
I've been doing the Vets for about 10 years now - I love the fact that it gives me something to aim for each year. The social side of the competition is great, both leading up to the event in terms of the camaraderie with my team mates and on the day itself with all the other competitors.
What are your aims for the competition?
This year my aims are for our trio routine to go smoothly with no mistakes on the new balances and tempo moves that we're debuting. Within gymnastics generally I'd like to stay active in the sport for as long as I can (I'd love to still be able to do a back flip at 60) and encourage others to take part in adult gymnastics.
What’s the social side of the competition like?
The social side is great, during the competition everyone is supporting and encouraging each other and there's usually a gala dinner afterwards which gives people an opportunity to let their hair down. I've made many good friends over the years from all over the country and it's lovely to catch up with them each time.
Can you tell us a little bit about your life outside of gymnastics?
I am an A&E consultant at a hospital in central London. It can be difficult to fit in training with on calls and shift work. The upside is that I can usually diagnose my own injuries as they happen!
Why do you think people should get involved in veteran gymnastics?
It's just so much fun and great for fitness, why would you want to run on a treadmill to keep fit when you could fly into a foam pit? At the veterans competition there's something for all levels from absolute beginners to seasoned pros so everyone can take part. I'm sure there are lots of people out there either desperate to give it a go for the first time or to dust off their handguards and see what they can still do - and why not? Hopefully I'll see them at the competition next year!