Garstang and Longridge gymnasts defy the odds

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A TEAM of young gymnasts from the Garstang and Longridge area overcame all the odds to clinch armfuls of medals at a championships on the Isle of Man.

The eight girls and nine boys from Garstang School of Gymnastics travelled to the Isle of Man to compete in the IOM Invitational Championships which was held at the Ellan Vannin Gymnastics club in Douglas.

But the trip was beset with problems, as one of the top gymnasts had to pull out at the last minute due to injury, then the trip to the Isle of Man was hit by ferry cancellations, stormy crossings and sleepless nights leaving the youngsters just a couple of hours to prepare for the start of the competition.

The event is one the Garstang School - which trains some of the best young gymnasts from the local area - take part in most years, and gymnasts were selected as a result of a control competition held within the club back in June.

Unfortunately, one of the Level 3 team gymnasts, Emma Law, was injured two days prior to leaving so had to withdraw from the event. Fortunately, with less than 24 hours to go, one of the club’s younger and less experienced gymnasts, Noa Simmons, agreed to take part, helping out her team mates and the club at very short notice.

Some of the gymnasts flew over to the IOM on the Friday afternoon with their parents but the remaining 11 gymnasts, along with coaches Fiona Catterall and Amanda Wrennall, were due to get the 2.15pm ferry from Heysham.

Weather conditions that day were terrible and on its arrival at Heysham the ferry hit a piling and the hole had to be repaired before setting sail back to the Isle of Man, meaning a 12 hour delay. Eventually the ferry left Heysham at 2.30am in a force nine gale and after a very choppy journey the team finally arrived at their hotel at 8am on Saturday morning - just over two hours from the start of the Level 3 girls team, Boys’ U12 team and Boys U16s’ events.

All the gymnasts performed to the best of their abilities and for those who had encountered the long and eventful journey did their very best not to let it take its toll on their performances.

The Girls’ Level 4 Team of Teri Williams, Zara Tachtai, Niamh Bonnett and Kara Dawson finished second overall, with Teri Williams getting a second place in the Vault.

The Girls Level 3 Team of Anna Jenkinson, Katy Coward, Olivia Baxendale and Noa Simmons finished sixth overall, while in the Boys U16s Individual Competition Taylor Wright got third overall, coming first in the high Bar, second on the rings and third on the floor, pommel and p-bars.

In the Boys U12s’ Team Competition the Garstang team of Isaac Vango, James Bonnett, Max Robertson and James Hartley came second overall, and in the individual placings Isaac Vango came first overall, having taken top spot in the pommel, rings, p-bar and high bar events and finishing second in the floor and vault. James Bonnett came third in the high bar and James Hartley was third in the vault.

In the Boys’ Level 2 Individual Competition Max Whyte got first on the floor and third in the vault and Archie Cooper was third in the high bar.

In the Boys’ Level 1 Individual Competition Brodie Donougher came first overall, taking first in the pommel, rings, vault, p-bars and high bar and second place on the floor.