Abbey Gymnastics Club has become the first gymnastics club from Northern Ireland to represent their country as part of the British team at World Gymnaestrada in Dornbirn.
In it’s 16th edition, World Gymnaestrada is the biggest international gymnastics festival that takes place every four years and celebrates the joy of gymnastics for all. It brings together participants from all over the globe and this year there are over 60 countries taking part.
There are 22 gymnasts in the team from Abbey Gymnastics Club in Belfast with the youngest participant aged 10 and the oldest participant aged 20.
Alison McMullan is the founder and Head Coach of Abbey and is thrilled to be here for the first time with her team.
“It’s unbelievable! We’ve done a lot of festivals back home and in England, but this experience is phenomenal. For a lot of our gymnasts this is the furthest they have been away from home.
“The atmosphere around Dornbirn is just amazing! The girls have had photographs with loads of gymnasts from other countries and that’s what it’s all about, making new friends and enjoying the experience.”
Abbey did a city performance in Lustenau yesterday evening with Leeds Gymnastics Club, performing together for just the second time after going through it at rehearsals in Nottingham in April.
Both teams shared the stage as they performed their own routines to music before coming together at the end. In keeping with this year’s theme ‘Show Your Colours’ Abbey based their routine on the history of Northern Ireland.
“We wanted our routine to tell the story about Northern Ireland and how two communities of Catholics and Protestants can come together. Moving on from the Troubles that happened many years ago we thought this was a good opportunity to show how our sport is bringing together two sides of the community.”
Earlier in the day the Abbey gymnasts took part in the first staging of Great Britain’s large performance in the Casino Stadium.
There are 800 gymnasts representing Great Britain at this year’s event – the most ever taken!
Today the whole of the British contingent will come together to perform their large routine again in the Casino Stadium.
You can watch the performance live from Dornbirn this afternoon at 15:00 GMT via our Instagram page. You can also follow all of the team’s activities throughout the week by searching the hashtag #GBGymnaestrada #WorldGymnaestrada & #ShowYourColours.