Woking had ten representatives competing as part of the South East Region at this year’s national finals. This, the last domestic competition of the year, is the biggest event in these young gymnasts’ calendar, and a chance to see how they rank against the rest of the country.
The weekend started with the Club level 1 competition, Jay Coote was the only Woking gymnast in the team. He made a few mistakes but performed well on Vault, Pommels and H-Bar to finish in 47th all around. The team just missed out on a medal, placing fourth. The next competitor to take to the floor was Woking’s Joel Ireland. Joel had a clean competition and scored 59.000, enough to take the 10th place spot in the Club level 5 category.
With Saturday came the start of the elite competitions. Santo Fuoco, Tom O’Connor and Alex Donchev made up the Elite level 4 team that placed 4th. Santo struggled with a few of the routines but found form on the vault where he picked up his highest score of the day, his total of 53.975 put him in 16th. Team mate Tom performed well, but falls on Pommel and P-Bars were costly, returning an all-around score of 57.450 (14th). Despite errors on P-Bars, Alex was delighted to stay on the pommel horse, and produced some very good vaulting to finish in 8th place (61.475).
Joshua Porter was in the Elite level 5 category. The difficulty of the routines meant only 10 gymnasts were able to compete at this level. Josh made mistakes on the first few apparatus but bounced back well, scoring the top scores on P-Bar and H-Bar. He finished the competition in 7th place. Josh’s performances helped the South East team to win the gold medal.
However it was younger brother Oliver Porter with the stand out performance of the day. This time last year he had a nightmare on pommels and scored a zero, resulting in him slipping way down in the rankings. Oliver has worked tirelessly over the last year and set out to abolish his demons, he went through routine after routine with style and precision. This fantastic display surpassed that of all his competitors as he won the competition with a total of 63.900. His impressive performance also helped the team to take home the gold, nearly nine marks ahead of their closest rivals.
The final competition of the weekend was the elite level 1 competition. This was a closely fought battle in a tough field. Despite errors on PPP and floor, Woking’s Harrison Lamble posted good scores on Vault and H-bar. He was thrilled to complete his pommel routine without falling and finished in 37th place AA. Ben Porter had a mixed day. Producing beautiful work on five of the seven apparatus, he unfortunately made errors on P-Bars and PPP and slipped down to 14th in the final standings. Jake Palmer was the top Woking gymnast, scoring a perfect 10 on pommels. The recent World Championships showed us that gymnastics is decided by the finest of margins, and at this level it is no different. Jake made one mistake in handstand on PPP and missed out on a medal by just 0.2, finishing in 5th place. The joint efforts of the gymnasts was enough to yield a bronze medal in the team competition.
There were further rewards for our gymnasts and coaches as the South East Region were presented with the Blakeborough trophy. This prestigious award recognises them as the top performing region across the elite grades competition.
Four of our gymnasts have also been invited to British Gymnastics’ Squad Selection Day. Joshua Porter, Alex Donchev, Oliver Porter and Jake Palmer will travel to Lilleshall to try and gain a spot in the National Squads for 2019. We wish them the best of luck.