Video of Event.
All 3 days of gymnastics were filmed and DVD's are available from Blackbird Institute.
Please click here to download an order form.
THE ENGLISH CHAMPIONSHIPS 2011
Fenton Manor, Stoke on Trent.
25, 26, 27 February 2011.
Report - Trevor Low
After many years happily hosted at Wiltshire School of Gymnastics, the English Championships was given a makeover in 2009 with a combined Men's and Women's competition staged in New College Leicester. The formula was so successful that 2010 saw record entries and record crowds. It was clear that the "English" had given a new dimension to gymnastics.
Late in the organisation to stage the 2011 Championships, English Gymnastics and British Gymnastics came together to brainstorm the possibilities and maximise the unique formula of the tournament. With British Gymnastics expert technical resources and an opportunity to test drive a new scoring system Fenton Manor became the clear choice to stage a fully integrated Men's and Women's English Championships. With seating for over 1,000 and the floor space to accommodate 10 apparatus , the amenities of a major sporting arena gave the event room to grow and be presented to a very high standard.
2 years in New College proved that the formula is popular and the atmosphere quite unique.2011 completed the transformation of the English Championships into an exciting and vital competition. Working with British Gymnastics and English Gymnastics made so many possibilities a reality; the event generated excitement.
ELITE INTERNATIONAL delivered a sponsorship that brought the unique GK style and quality to the Championship. The BETH TWEDDLE autograph opportunities were mobbed by excited gymnasts and spectators eager to meet a EUROPEAN and WORLD CHAMPION.
The "English ", like many things essentially English, has a dramatic and at times traumatic history with as many twists and turns as a floor exercise. The AGA (in fact the Amateur Gymnastics and Fencing Association) was formed on June 21st 1888, motivated by gentlemen in the Midlands Clubs to deny the "Northern Association" any claim of authority on Gymnastics in England. But it was not until 30th March 1896, urged into action by a highly critical editorial in The Gymnast Magazine, that the first ENGLISH GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS took place. It contained Horizontal Bar and Parallel Bar routines (slow and fast), Pommel Horse, Vault, Rings and High Jump with the maximum height of 5ft 6inches to safeguard the wellbeing of the competitors. Maybe this was also the start of Health and Safety.
The entry fee was 2 shillings and sixpence. This was the equivalent of 1 month's wages for a tradesman of the times. Gymnastics like many sports was for Gentlemen of means. The spectator fee for a reserved spectator seat in 1896 was also a massive 2 shillings and sixpence. Today's ticket price represents the equivalent of 2 McDonalds Happy Meals. You've never had it so good.
That first Championship was won by Harry Leon Cain of Orion Club. Winning the title the following year he felt obliged to return his winners medal for fear of bankrupting the Association; in those days Gold medal meant GOLD medal.
Over three days the Championships began with the youngest Boys and girls. Both these groups are awash with extraordinary talent with a skill level that defies the wildest dreams of the competitors from just a few years ago let alone the 1896 event. Entering such a large arena was jaw dropping for many of the competitors; electronic scoring, 10 apparatus, full television projection and the real image of major staging. But most of these young gymnasts are capable of taking the occasion in hand and rise to the challenge inspired to compete well. While the girls age groups followed the traditional pattern of age splits the Boys and Men demonstrated an interesting switch with last year ages going up a category to be tested with their older peers. This does give a chance for rising talent to be challenged in courage and tenacity and to remind the older gymnasts what is close behind them. There is also the idea that in some events the predictable winners of standard age groupings is set aside and the honours spread.
The GIRLS ESPOIRE was a classic. There was a Nottingham-South Durham showdown for Gold. Both clubs have an immense reputation for pure technique and adventurous gymnastics but it was the overwhelming power of South Durham's Amy Tinkler's acrobatic skill that prevailed. Caitilin Roberts of Nottingham worked a superb Beam settling for Silver. Tolworth finished with 3rd, Aasha-Eliyce Kimpton and Millie Kennard 4th, an excellent club tussle. Tolworth, with Men and Women in the top rankings at National events must be worthy of Top Club Award this season.
The BOYS event gave notice of a storming future for Mens gymnastics. So much depth with technical accuracy and excellence was staggering. Way out ahead was Lucas Jones of Leeds, Gold with a remarkably mature parallel Bars and an all around performance that states "watch me". Donell Osborne of Earls took Silver comfortably with the Bronze going to Callum Simms of Dynamo, a Club in resurgence and a gymnast to take note of.
The JUNIOR WOMEN saw Sapphire's Gabrielle Jupp win Silver to split Liverpool's best with Rebecca Tunney winning Gold and Abi Craig the Bronze. So many superb gymnasts in this group needed just a few tenths to separate the top performers on each apparatus, a great position for English Gymnastics to be in.
The JUNIOR MEN age split was apparent here. Hamish Carter of Notts did not have his best day with stops and falls but his amazing skill and style won him Bronze. Jay Thompson of Exeter did little wrong and a great deal very right but it was to be Silver behind an awesome Nile Wilson of Leeds. Nile is a Porsche of a gymnast, he looks the business. When he puts his foot down the sound and acceleration is overpowering.
It is a remarkable competition where a World Champion takes Bronze on her favourite event behind her home club sisters. For Liverpool 1,2,3 on Floor, Hannah Whelan 1st, Jennifer Pinches 2nd and Beth Tweddle 3rd. Hannah also took the All Around SENIOR WOMEN'S title ahead of Jennifer with Heathrow's Danusia Francis on the podium for the Bronze.
THE SENIOR MEN, with that age group twist was an enormous field of 50 gymnasts. All looked in control, none looked out of place. Max Whitlock of South Essex powered past Reiss Beckford for the Bronze medal with Matthew Firth of Leeds, by the odd 2 tenths or so, winning the Silver. By a long way Kristian Thomas of Earls demonstrated once again that when he switches on his overdrive none can pass. Gold and the English 2011 title for Kristian makes him one of most rewarded and titled gymnasts in British Mens history.
"The English Association are proud of this event and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in working for and supporting the Championships. I hope that you all enjoyed the competitions, which were also a chance to see many of the gymnasts who were so successful in winning England Team and individual medals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010". Jim Moss, Chairman of English Gymnastics
Great Champions, Great Gymnasts and a Great English Championship give many thanks to a winning organising team. With ELITE INTERNATIONAL and GK on board, the superb support of FENTON MANOR staff and terrific competition managers, Sue James and Mike Weinstock, the show was a historic success.
The stars of the organisation were the "house team"; England Development Officers Alan Price, back of house, and Hazel Coulton, front of house, with the willing and endless help from Kay Woolrich and the parents, coaches and children from City of Stoke Gymnastics Club.
Without the unbelievable help and support of MULTIVISION, Peter Bannister and his staff with presenter Lisa Gannon, the event could not have taken place to such a high standard.
The provision by BRITISH GYMNASTICS of the online entry system and the test drive of the new electronic updated BG scoring system was a unique and valued partnership that served the best interests of the gymnasts, coaches, clubs and spectators.