Chichester girls Anna Richardson, Holly Waters, Amy and Sophie Brown tasted success at the Great British TeamGym finals at Fenton Manor in Stoke.
They were part of the Portsmouth School of Gymnastics junior team, last year’s silver medallists, and went into the championships ranked second in the UK following northern and southern qualifying tournaments.
Having won the International Cup in 2013, the girls had high expectations.
In TeamGym, evenly-numbered years are considered qualification periods for junior and senior teams for the European Championships – the pinnacle of TeamGym as a sport and traditionally dominated by the Scandinavian countries. This year the event takes place in Iceland in October.
The added significance of this year’s competition meant the quality of the competition was exceptional with 11 junior teams achieving the national qualification score.
After the first rotation of apparatus Portsmouth had taken the lead on the floor with a good quality routine, while reigning champions Scarborough led the way on the tumble track and Crewe and Nantwich lead the trampette and vault standings.
In the second rotation an error-strewn vault run put the pressure on the Portsmouth team, who responded with 12 consecutive double somersaults with varying twists for their two trampette runs.
A good-quality floor routine by Scarbrough meant PSG trailed by 0.20 marks with Basingstoke a further 0.70 behind. As the final rotation of apparatus began the title was realistically between any one of four teams.
Then with just Portsmouth and Scarborough to go the tension in the arena was palpable. PSG started with their highly-risky tumble routine. An amazing display saw all 18 tumbles landed and the highest tumble score of the day put the pressure on Scarborough.
Despite scoring the second highest score on the trampette and vault the Scarborough team eventually had to settle for the silver medal 0.7 marks behind Portsmouth.
In the senior age group PSG were favourites to once again take the British title, the reigning champions having won in 2012 and 2013. They were in dominant form winning the southern qualifying round in March.
Emsworth’s Fenella Mousley and University of Chichester student Rochelle Oxley were once again in top form. An outstanding start on the floor, with a routine that scored 21.083, set standard for the rest of the competition.
Disaster nearly struck on the tumble track as one of the team limped out following an awkward landing. Quick thinking and a readjustment for the next run saw the team still score very highly.
With one gymnast down for the trampette, the strength in depth in the squad showed as the girls filled in and landed their replacement moves. The final score of 52.583 was nearly eight marks above their nearest rivals despite several falls and is a testament to the ability and hard work of the team and coaches Bev and Julian Such.
Britain has never medalled in the European TeamGym Championships but the PSG senior girls represent the best chance GB has ever had to break the duck. All the girls have been selected for the GB squad competing at the European Championships in October.