Connor Wharram (pictured left) is 20 years old and trains at Bracknell Gymnastics Club with Level 5 coaches - Lewis Jones and Chris Bennett. Back in March at the Southern National Qualifer, Connor performed a very difficult Dragalescu vault. This was the first time anyone had performed it within TeamGym (from a trampette vault and over a table 1.6m high) in the UK.
With a new skill under his belt and plenty of passion for the sport, we thought we’d catch up with Connor to see how he first got involved, what it’s like being part of a team and all about that impressive vault…
What made you first get involved in TeamGym?
"I first got involved in TeamGym thanks to my recreational coach at the time Sam. He saw potential in me that I certainly didn’t, so he set me up for a squad trial at my first club in Basingstoke. I was offered a place in multiple disciplines, but chose TeamGym. It’s been onwards and upwards since then."
What is it that excites you about the sport?
"There’s a lot of things, the atmosphere from the crowd involvement at a competition, the fact you’re a team, you win and lose, fail and succeed together. In TeamGym everyone is constantly getting better and pushing more difficult skills, I like that, I have to try and stay ahead."
What is it like being part of a team and how do you all prepare for a big event like a British Championships?
"Being part of a team is brilliant, when you’re having a bad day they’re there to pick you up, having a good day they’ll lift you higher, they want you to succeed just as much as you do, sometimes maybe more. Training never has a dull moment as a team, but the work/play balance is sometimes hard to control.
"Preparation for a competition like the British starts months in advance, starting with mostly conditioning for strength, power, etc. and skill preparation, breaking down the end skills to improve technique. We then transition to lighter conditioning and full skills slowly towards the competition, the sessions before comp will be mostly just repeating competition skills so they’re almost just a habit."
Talk us through your new vault and how long it has taken to learn it? How special did it feel to be the first in the UK to perform it?
"The new vault I competed at the qualifiers was a handspring double tuck half, three rotations over the vault with a half twist to finish, commonly known as a Dragalescu. It’s been a long process because to be allowed to compete triple rotations in TeamGym you have to jump through a few hoops, to prove you’re ready and it’s safe for competition.
"It felt great to compete the Dragalescu, it meant all the work I had put in had paid off and it’s nice to be the first but I don’t know about special, I just did what I’d been training to do, like everyone else who competed."
What are your goals moving forward?
"The dream goal is definitely to medal at the European Championships. Also at Europeans each year they name a group of gymnasts that stood out during the competition as All-stars, that would be awesome too. Shorter term I’d like to be the first person to compete a new skill in all of TeamGym not just the UK, I just don’t know what that might be yet."
Why should someone get involved in TeamGym?
"Why shouldn’t someone get involved? It’s fun, it’s competitive, the community between clubs, gymnasts, coaches, and spectators is awesome, everyone just wants to help everyone else get better. It’s great to watch too, it’s fast paced and keeps you entertained, it would make great TV. I might be biased but I reckon it’s the best discipline going."
Head to our dedicated event page where you’ll be able to find the latest news and live scoring. Here you can also access our judge cams. These cameras are specifically set up for judging purposes but during the event you can also have access to watch the competition.