GYMNASTICS: Rugby gymnasts win British Championship silvers

Under 16s silver medallist Tom Jones with coach Sergiy Kotlyarov
Under 16s silver medallist Tom Jones with coach Sergiy Kotlyarov

Owen and Tom runners-up in vault competitions

Rugby can proudly boast two silver medallists from the British Gymnastics Championships.

Owen Print won silver in the Under 18s vault

Owen Print won silver in the Under 18s vault

Both finished runners-up in their respective vault competitions, Owen Print in the Under 18s and Tom Jones in the Under 16s, at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.

They have earned Rugby Gymnastics Club its highest honours so far, having both also won bronze in the English Championships last year.

Owen and Tom are coached at the Lower Hillmorton Road gym by Sergiy Kotlyarov, training an incredible 24 hours a week over six days.

“When you know you have won a medal it’s amazing,” said Ashlawn School student Owen. “I went first on the vault and then just had to wait and see how everyone else did, so I was very happy.”

Owen on the podium at Liverpool's Echo Arena

Owen on the podium at Liverpool's Echo Arena

Tom, 16, explained: “You can’t buy that feeling of winning a medal and it’s not only nice for us to have done so well, but for Sergiy too.

“He has got us there and we can’t praise Sergiy enough. He supports all of us at every championship and never takes a day off.” Owen added: “We would not be where we are without him.”

Tom started at the gym club as a six or seven year old, before Sergiy took up his role eight years ago, making him their longest serving current gymnast.

Owen, 18, had started his gymnastics in Daventry, but switched to Rugby as a ten-year-old, when Sergiy joined. Ten is considered very late for a gymnast to come to the sport, making his achievements all the more commendable.

Tom with his silver medal at the British Championships

Tom with his silver medal at the British Championships

The conditions in which the Rugby gymnasts train, are also a far cry from the state of the art facilities at other centres which many of their rivals enjoy, showing how much they have achieved against the odds, and making coach Sergiy all the more proud of their success.

Owen had tried a variety of sports from karate to football before excelling at gymnastics.

Tom, who goes to Hartshill School, Nuneaton, says he was introduced to gymnastics as he had plenty of energy as a young child!

They are now an inspiration for the younger gymnasts and have already started coaching a group of their own, aged between five and eight, finding it rewarding to see them progress. Tom is taking his level 1 coaching course and Owen has just passed level 2.

“Perseverance and dedication is so important in this sport,” said Owen. “A lot of young gymnasts drop out, but if you can stick with it, you can get somewhere.”

Their ambition is to continue to make a name for themselves, showing the consistency needed to earn selection to the national squad, which two of their younger club colleagues Clayton Bell and Luke Marsh are already enjoying.