Olympics joy for Waveney Gymnastics Club

LOWESTOFT was given a double Olympic boost this week as it emerged that two leading international gymnastics teams would be based in the town in the run-up to the 2012 games in London.

The Australian men's team has opted to use the Waveney Gymnastics Club as its main training base – and will be joined there by the Canadian men's team which has now confirmed its interest in using the venue.

Delighted club officials were this week celebrating the announcement by Gymnastics Australia that it was committed to using their state-of-the-art facilities in Southwell Road. It came as the Canadian team this week re-affirmed its agreement to train at the club as it prepares for the games, starting next July.

Adam Sachs, high performance Manager at Gymnastics Australia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the club – and said he was very happy with the assistancethe team had been offered.

'Australia has a proud history of participating successfully in the Olympic Games and every section of the Australian Olympic Team will be striving to perform well in order to maintain our country's position in the top five on the Olympic medal tally in London,' Mr Sachs told The Journal.

'Gymnastics Australia's partnership with the Waveney Gymnastic Club will underpin our preparation for the 2012 Olympic Test Event and for the Olympics. Our athletes and coaches are excited about the opportunity to train in this elite daily training environment in the lead up to these critical events.

'The Waveney club's willingness to assist us in our preparation gives us great confidence that our athletes and coaches will be able to remain focussed on the job at hand – winning medals at the London Olympics!'

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He added: 'Gymnastics Australia is also excited about the possibility of continuing its partnership with Waveney GC after the games as a launch pad for Australian teams into competitions in the UK and Europe in the future.'

This week's latest developments mean the club could be enjoying two visits from the Australians in 2012.

If the team is not among the top eight at the Tokyo World Championships in October (a first qualifiying event for gymnastics at London 2012), it will have to attend a second qualifier at the O2 Arena in London in January.

If that happens, they have agreed to use Waveney Gymnastics Club for their preparations in January as well as for their final preparation camp immediately prior to the London Games next July.

In a further boost for Lowestoft, the Canadians have also confirmed that they will be using Waveney Gymnastics Club as their training camp if they too need to attend the second qualifying event in January.

Jeff Thomson, programme director for men's artistic gymnastics at Gymnastics Canada, said: 'We'd be extremely happy to return to the Waveney Gymnastics Club. We feel the facility and personnel at the club would provide us with the best conditions in which to prepare for this critical Olympic qualification competition in London.'

In March last year, top Australian gymnast and pommel horse specialist Prashanth Sellathurai stayed for over a week at the club along with his national and personal coaches, before travelling to Doha for a gymnastics World Cup event where he successfully won a gold medal in the pommel horse final.

The Canadian Men's Team spent 10 days at the club in 2009 preparing for that year's World Championships, held at the O2 Arena in London. The club is one of only a few to be fully equipped for men's and women's artistic gymnastics with Gymnova equipment – the official equipment manufacturer for gymnastics at London 2012.

Vikki Rogers, the club's manager, said: 'Our success in attracting these teams is down to the hard work of our coaching team, staff and directors as a whole, and in particular our assistant manager Peter Etherington, who made initial contacts with both teams.

'The visits from them will have far-reaching economic benefits for the local area, as each squad will require accommodation, food and refreshments, transport, medical facilities and so on, as well as a first class facility and equipment to train on. We look forward to a lasting legacy for Waveney as a result of their visits, to inspire young people in our community and develop real sporting opportunities for them as a result'.

Club chairman John Pawsey added: 'As the time leading up to the London 2012 event gets shorter, the excitement and adrenalin increases. It is with great enthusiasm and anticipation that we want to ensure the experience for the athletes, gymnasts and officials from Australia, Canada, and other possible teams at the club and in the local community, is of the highest quality.

'This is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion for all individuals, businesses and other members of the community to contribute to the visits of these teams,' he added. 'Let us all put Waveney and Lowestoft on the international map together.'

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