17th February 2018
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WATCH: Steep learning curve for young gymnasts

Resourcefulness has been required from the gymnastics team with limited resources for training ahead of this year’s island games.

The local team are the only competitors entered in this year’s competition without access to a sprung floor, said coach Julie Grant. That means the gymnasts have had to make trips to the mainland to train. Locally the team of four girls, all aged 18 or under, have been training in Clickimin using crash mats to practise their floor routines.

Shetland’s Gotland Island Games Gymnastics team. Top (from left): Sara McLeod, Evie Craigie. Bottom: Zsófia Kiszely and Arwen Grieve. Photo: Kevin Jones

Evie Craigie, Arwen Grieve, Zsofia Kiszely and Sara McLeod have been putting in around eight hours of practice every week ahead of the games, honing their skills for Gotland.

But extra training has been necessary because of the lack of a sprung floor, a problem which Grant admits has put the team at a disadvantage.
Trips south have seen the girls participate in national competitions. They have trained, with the help of national judges, in the Aberdeen Gymnastics Centre and also in West Lothian with guidance from experienced Commonwealth coach Sandy Richardson.

But this is the only sprung floor experience they have been able to acquire, with the limited resources coming despite the
local club having a long waiting list of youngsters hoping to gain a spot.

And all of this interest has been accumulated in just a short period of time, with the club only being set up off the back of the 2005 games in Shetland.

Grant said that the key for the club going forward would be to acquire their own facilities.

Eyes had initially been cast on the gym hall at the soon to be old Anderson High School, but this is now unlikely to materialise, she felt.

And despite the difficulties they have faced in getting up to standard before Gotland, Grant felt that the team had developed well, particularly through their work with 45-year coach Richardson.

She said: “The girls have gained a huge amount of confidence working with him on his equipment.”

About Keegan Murray

Reporter for The Shetland Times. Interested in politics, literature and music. Born and bred Shetlander. Long suffering Newcastle United supporter.

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