Leading British gymnasts Ellie Downie and James Hall wowed students at Bishop Challoner Catholic College in Birmingham today (Tuesday Jan 30th) as they were officially announced as part of the Great Britain team that will take on the best countries in the world in the city in just 50 days time.
Current European champion Downie and European bronze medalist Hall gave year 7 and 8 students a taste of what fans can expect to see at the Gymnastics World Cup at Arena Birmingham in March with a gymnastics display as part of their PE lesson.
Both gymnasts will join Nile Wilson and Claudia Fragapane as part of the four strong GB team who will take on the leading gymnastics nations from the Rio Olympics, where Team GB famously won seven medals in the sport.
The GB team will be up against gymnasts from eight other nations over two nights of competition in the all-round event, which for the men includes the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar. The women will battle it out on vault, uneven bars, beam and floor.
Downie, who competed in Rio and made history last year by becoming the first ever-British gymnast to win a major all-round title by taking gold in European Championships in Romania said:
“I’m delighted to be part of a really strong Great Britain squad for the World Cup and can’t wait to take on the best in the world in front of a home crowd. There is a real passion for gymnastics in the Midlands and it was great to come here this morning and meet some of the students who could be GB stars of the future.”
“Having such a prestigious event like the world cup in Birmingham is amazing and a great chance for people in the city to see what the games might be like in four years time. There are some huge gymnastics nations taking part in March so it will be fantastic competition to come along and watch.”
Hall, who also tasted success at last year’s European Championships, taking bronze in the men’s all around event, will compete in his first ever World Cup. The 22-year-old commented:
“The Gymnastics World Cup is a massive event with the very best gymnasts in the world all coming to Birmingham to compete. For myself and the other British gymnasts, the home crowd support will be huge and could be the difference in taking us on to the medal podium. Representing your country is a great honour and I can’t wait to walk out in my GB kit in Arena Birmingham and show the British fans what I can do.”
The World Cup on March 21st and March 22nd is one of the first major international sporting events in the city in the countdown to the 2022 Commonwealth Games and will be the last event before gymnasts from the four home nations head to the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, who was also at the school for today’s team announcement added:
"Birmingham has a fantastic track record of staging major sporting events and, as excitement builds towards 2022, the World Cup will give people a taste of what the Games will be like in four years’ time.”
Britain will take on Brazil, China, Japan, Germany, Holland, USA and Russia in the event with the Ukraine also joining the men’s competition. Gymnasts from the other competing nations will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Birmingham event is the penultimate competition in the World Cup Series, which has already visited the USA and will finish in Japan. Nations compete to be crowned World Cup winners with each individual event securing vital points on the leader board. Medals are awarded at each event, with gymnasts also picking up ranking points in the hope of being crowned the World Cup series champion.
Tickets for both nights of the event are available now from www.gymnasticsworldcup.co.uk.