Great Britain had a confident start to the rhythmic competition season at the weekend (8th and 9th February) at the Miss Valentine International in Estonia. Amongst those competing was current British Champion Laura Halford from Esprit Gymnastics, who in just over two weeks’ time will celebrate her 18th birthday.
As well as officially becoming an adult in 2014 it will also be a big year for Laura and her gymnastics with various competitions on the agenda including the prestigious British Championships in May. She will then be hoping her results from these events will lead to her selection to the Welsh Rhythmic team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Looking ahead, Laura tells us her aims over the next few months…
“My hopes for competitions coming up are to perform clean routines with little mistakes but also to become even more confident with my performances so by the time the Commonwealth Games come around I won't feel as nervous and I will be prepared as much as I can. These competitions are also great opportunities to be recognised on the world stage as it is where some of the best gymnasts in the world will be competing. My routines have pretty much stayed the same this year. We have only changed some little things but I am mainly working on perfectin.”
And as for having to defend her British title, we ask whether she is feeling a little extra pressure than normal?
“I am feeling a little extra pressure because obviously it would be amazing to retain my title especially leading up to the Commonwealths. However as long as I put in my best performance and complete the best routines that I can then I will be happy whatever the result is. I think the competition will be extremely tough this year because everyone will be fighting for a place on their nation's Commonwealth team. It will also be one of the few competitions before the Games that all the gymnasts of the different nations in the UK will be competing against each other, so everyone will be wanting to put forward their absolute best to try and come out on top.”
Looking to make the Welsh squad for Glasgow, on a personal level we wonder what would it mean for Laura to represent her home county at the Commonwealth Games?
“It would be such an amazing opportunity to represent Wales in Glasgow. I watched Frankie Jones win her silver medal in Delhi in 2010 and I knew that one day I would love to do the same so I have been working really hard in the gym to try and achieve my goals. I have to travel to Cardiff from Swindon three times a week to train and make lots of sacrifices to try and be the best I possibly can, so knowing that all the hard work will have paid off will make it all worth it.”
Laura will be looking to gain a place on the team but will have tough competition from the likes of six-time British Champion Frankie Jones and many other strong Welsh gymnasts. So far the squad have been training well together and Laura is hopeful of a team medal in Glasgow.
“I think the Welsh team are progressing really well. We train all together three times a week in Cardiff so we have a great team bond already and can always support each other in training as well as in competition. We are getting a lot of competition experience and have so much help and support from the Sport Wales team so we will be really prepared by the time Glasgow comes around. I think the team will hopefully have a really good chance in Glasgow. It is great having Frankie with us because she has experienced it all before, so is helping us to know what to expect and she is a great role model to have in training. With this strong team, we are hoping that we can try and win a team medal in Glasgow.”
We wish Laura and the British squad all the best in their upcoming competitions. If you follow all of our British squad gymnasts and keep up to date with the latest news, make sure to follow us on Twitter @britgymnastics.
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