Top gymnastics at the Echo Arena

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Gymnastics venue at the Echo Arena. Picture by Sinead Cunningham

Gymnastics venue at the Echo Arena. Picture by Sinead Cunningham

The Men’s and Women’s British Gymnast Championships return to Liverpool’s Echo Arena this weekend, featuring local Olympics stars.

The three-day event which begins on Friday will see the country’s top gymnasts perform for the British titles. It will include competition for junior and seniors in the all-round disciplines, where the gymnasts compete on different apparatus, as well as individual competitions.

The 2011 all-round champion and double Olympian Hannah Whelan, who is part of the City of Liverpool Gymnastics Club, spoke to JMU Journalism about her achievements and her excitement of performing in front of a home crowd.

Whelan said: “It’s fantastic, it’s like a mini-Olympics really. You have a home crowd in a fantastic arena, it should be a really good atmosphere.”

The Singapore-born athlete, who competed alongside Beth Tweddle at London 2012, is excited to be taking on a more senior role within the British squad as many other gymnasts are taking a break from the sport.

She said: “I’m one of the oldest now and more experienced. I’ve always been known as the baby because I started so young, but it’s nice to be one of the mature ones and help the little ones if they need it.

“It would a fantastic achievement, coming back the year after the Olympics. But I’m not going out there to win it, I’m going out to there and do the routine the best I can do.”

Joining Hannah at the Echo will be Crosby’s Olympic bronze medal winner Daniel Purvis, who took the men’s title for the third year in a row last year.  He is fully aware that with the competitors being strong this year, it will not be easy.

He said: “Last year’s British Championships was fantastic – taking the title and also individual medals in such a brilliant arena, and hopefully this year I can do the same.”

For the experienced gymnasts taking part there is fierce competition from first year seniors, who include Georgina Hockenhull, Angel Romaeo, Raer Theaker and Liverpool’s Charlie Fellows.

Friday sees Junior women’s, Under 16 and Under 18 men’s all-round, with the senior men’s and women’s all-round being competed on Saturday. Sunday is the last day of this year’s championships with the Apparatus finals being the closing event.

About Sinead Cunningham, JMU Journalism