The Disability Artistic British Championships head to the Benfield Sports Centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne this Sunday 18th November.
Ahead of the competition, British Gymnastics caught up with Coach Angela Turner from the City of Glasgow Gymnastics Club to find out her goals for the competition, her love of the sport and her hopes for the future…
How did you first get involved in disability gymnastics?
I first became involved around 15 years ago when we had a few disabled gymnasts in recreational classes in our club who showed potential for competitive level gymnastics. We had some open days and found there was a huge demand for gymnastics for people with disabilities in Glasgow. We also discovered British Gymnastics competitions and National Squad and started going along and competing. The club has gone from strength to strength over the last decade and we now have around 40 disabled gymnasts.
What do you love most about it?
I love coaching and helping all the gymnasts to achieve their potential. I like to focus on what the gymnast can do, find their strengths and help them to improve. I have set up lots of different levels and disciplines to allow for the inclusion of all levels of gymnasts with a disability in gymnastics in Glasgow. I like to challenge perceptions of disability and ability and I know the gymnasts love to showcase their skills at the British Championships.
What do you hope for your gymnasts to achieve at the competition?
We have 8 men and 4 women competing in Newcastle. Georgia Carlslaw for example loves creating and choreographing new floor routines every year and we love to see her perform them. Both Jonathan Mackie and David Rae love to tumble and work hard to have something new to show off every year. Our two youngest competitors Jane and Sophie are relatively new to the sport and this will be a great opportunity to see what they are aiming for and perform their routines in front of a new audience. We have gymnasts like Lee Davidson and Andrew Macintyre competing who have been training and traveling to competitions with me for almost a decade who still love to train, keep fit and compete.
Explain to us the your competition experience?
I have been taking gymnasts along to the British Championships to compete for 12 years. We all look forward to the competition as it is one of the occasions in the year that the guys get to show off what they have been working on. I have a huge sense of pride when I see them show everyone what they can do and how hard they have been working. The competition is very friendly and we enjoy traveling as a team and the gymnasts always enjoy the trip away from home and seeing all their friends from previous years and squads.
Why should people get involved in disability gymnastics?
For disabled gymnasts this can be somewhere for them to shine and to have pride in their achievements. It can help build self-esteem and help them to forge relationships and friendships with others in the sport. For our older gymnasts the volunteering opportunities in coaching and fundraising help to keep them engaged in the sport and to encourage and inspire new generations of disabled gymnasts. For me personally being involved has given me the opportunity to work with lots of different coaches and made lots of lasting friendships. Both my personal life and my development as a coach have been enriched by the many opportunities it has given me.
What are your hopes for the future in terms of for the sport and for your club?
I would like to see more competitive opportunities for disability gymnastics - if more clubs get involved we could have lots more events and give the gymnasts more chances to perform and gain some credit for how hard they work. I would also, as national coach, like to see more international competitions. Some of our disability gymnasts are competing at a high level but there is not much on the elite side unfortunately for them to aim for. I would have loved to have seen us compete at the Paralympics but I hope that at least we can build on the success of the Games and encourage more young people with disabilities that gymnastics can offer them lots of opportunities to take part and to compete.
You can purchase tickets for the event by clicking here.