Gymnastics club hosts GB stars
LOWESTOFT played host to Olympic sensation Louis Smith this week as he prepares to take on the world once more. Smith, 20, who won gymnastics bronze at the Beijing Olympics last year, and five of his Great Britain team-mates have been the latest international squad to train at the Waveney Gymnastics Club, in Kirkley, ahead of the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in the O2 Dome in London next week.
LOWESTOFT played host to Olympic sensation Louis Smith this week as he prepares to take on the world once more.
Smith, 20, who won gymnastics bronze at the Beijing Olympics last year, and five of his Great Britain team-mates have been the latest international squad to train at the Waveney Gymnastics Club, in Kirkley, ahead of the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in the O2 Dome in London next week.
Last week the Canadian squad used the Waveney club's facilities in Southwell Road, but since Tuesday, Smith, and the likes of European Gymnastic Championships silver medal winner Daniel Keatings and British champion Kristian Thomas, have been using the centre to fine tune their routines ahead of the championships.
Dozens of schoolchildren have been along to watch the stars in action and John Pawsey, chairman of the club, says the presence of the GB squad is helping to put Lowestoft on the map for the sport.
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'One of the benefits of having the Olympics here in 2012 has meant that we were able to put our facility forward as a pre-games training facility,' he said.
'And it's been accepted as something of a sufficiently high standard and the reputation of the club and the town itself will improve by that. What people are saying to us is that they think it's one of the best facilities they've seen in the world.
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'Having got them here the next stage is towards maybe holding invitation open competitions and getting the top gymnasts in the world here to compete. We've got the facilities to do that.'
And Mr Pawsey said he could already see improvements in the club's athletes after they had been watching the international stars.
'Our youngsters overlap the training sessions of the top athletes and they see the level at which they work towards,' he said.
'And there's no doubt about it, you can already see in the work they are doing their determination is much greater than it was and it's about sustaining it when these people have gone.'
When the facilities were officially opened in 2003, Smith was part of a demonstration group for the official ceremony.
And after his success last year he is predicting a bright future for British gymnastics at place like the Waveney club.
'We've got some amazing juniors coming through, so it is really looking strong and we've got a strong base to work from and hope the success from Beijing can just carry on,' he said.