Published: April 4, 2013
Highbridge gymnasts travel to Portugal for international competition

Fourteen acrobatic gymnasts from Highbridge's Monarchs Club have just returned from a successful six-day visit to Portugal where they competed in an international competition against gymnasts from 14 countries around the world.

A total of 579 gymnasts took part in the Maia International Acro Cup Competition, which provided a weekend of energetic and exciting acrobatics.

Family and friends were able to watch the gymnasts from the Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge area via live coverage on the internet.

As an added bonus, the Maia FIG World Cup was also being held there with world class acrobatics being executed from some of the world's best gymnasts, providing a unique opportunity for the Monarchs to mix with international clubs competing at a very high level - an experience that the team will never forget.

Katie Hoskins and Grace Huggins competed in the beginners section. This was Grace’s first international competition and they completed all their moves in a new routine, conquering pre-competition nerves, and achieving an overall score of 24.700. Gracie’s mum Susie say it was a very emotional time for both gymnasts and parents.

Emily Woolley, Alice Kelson and Shauna Cross competed in the Women’s Youth Group. This was Shauna and Alice’s first International. Shauna’s mum, Tracey, said: "As a first-time mum visiting an overseas competition, I was very impressed with the organisation. The girls were nervous for their tempo routine and delivered a beautiful balance routine. I was rather impressed with the high standard in every category."

Women’s Youth Pair, Alice Dymond and Natasha Stockham, achieved an amazing 11th place with their balance routine, scoring their highest-ever score of 25.8 followed by their tempo routine on the Saturday where their smiles shone, gaining them 15th place overall, just missing out by 0.15 points to qualify for the Finals on Sunday. This was a fantastic achievement for their first international competition. Natasha's mum, Sam, felt both routines were beautifully executed and she thoroughly enjoyed watching all the gymnasts compete. The girls compete again at The British Acrobatic Competition later in the month.

The Monarchs' famous mens four, becoming well known at the Portugal competition, Joseph Blake, Jacob Baker, and brothers Sean Mckenna and Conor Mckenna, took the bronze medal in their category. All three routines had been changed for the competition and Monarchs Coach Naomi Shepherd was delighted with their performances. All the moves held were completed to a very high standard. Jacob’s mum, Julie, was impressed every time with the strength and stamina involved. "I am so proud to watch my son compete at an international level and felt privileged to watch the World Cup," she said. Brian, Joseph’s father, added: "They are all winners in my eyes! You certainly feel the nerves and pressure of what's involved for the gymnasts who compete at such a high level."

Finally, junior level womens trio Ellie Cater, Sophie McArdle and Crystal Hale - who competed in their last international competition as a trio - maintained 7th place overall after executing both routines with confidence in a very competitive group. "The girls did fantastically well, it was such a shame they missed the finals by one place," said Crystal’s father Clive.

Club Coach Mandy Warburton told "All the gymnasts did fantastically well and all the coaches are very proud of them all. It was such a good experience."

"The Monarchs Gymnasts and Parents would like to thank Head Coach Tony Merrett and coaches Mandy Warburton, Naomi Shepherd and Donna Cater for organising and supervising such a fabulous trip!"


Pictured: Members of Highbridge's Monarchs Gymnastics Club performing their routines in Portugal at the weekend. All photos contributed by club.

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