Just before we enter 2016 with everything it will bring, a look back at some of my favourite routines over the last twelve months. Part year in review, part celebration from a fantastic year at all levels of elite WAG in Great Britain as we continued to climb higher than ever before.
There are too many routines that I have loved and enjoyed for different reasons to include them all, so apparatus by apparatus in no particular order are just a few of them.
Amy Tinkler South Durham, British Senior Championships.
Not even Amy’s best vault of the year, but as a new senior needing to hit this vault to take the British AA title at her first attempt this was a great performance under pressure.
Taeja James City of Birmingham, British Espoir Championships Apparatus Finals.
Taking the Vault title, Taeja debuted her full twisting Yurchenko at the British Espoir Championships. Not senior until 2018, Taeja joins a very small group of British gymnasts, in performing this vault at such a young age.
Ellie Downie Notts Gymnastics, World Team Final
Under the highest pressure, last up and vaulting for Britain’s first ever World team medal, first year senior Ellie performed the best vault she ever had to earn 15.133, and hit when it mattered. A simply outstanding performance, made more so under the circumstances.
Ruby Harrold The Academy, World Qualification
Ruby had last competed the double twisting Yurchenko a year ago at the 2014 World Championships, she then hadn’t competed at all due to injury for almost a year, then vaulted just twice, once at British teams, once at GB v Holland, both just weeks before Worlds. Both times she competed the one and a half, so to be able to compete the double at Worlds when it mattered is a hugely impressive achievement.
Lucy Stanhope City of Liverpool, Junior Four way international
Lucy is a slight gymnast, so it’s impressive to see the lift and time she gets on this vault. Also worth noting is the attention to form and extension. She has competed the vault well all year, and has another full year in the junior ranks, so I am sure we shall see her upgrade before joining the seniors in 2017.
Amy Tinkler South Durham, World Team Final
Like Ellie, Amy was selected to vault in the world team final. Still just ahead of her 16th birthday, Amy did a fantastic job in front of the home crowd, scoring the highest she ever had with 15.083. Amy said herself it felt like the best vault she had ever done, and she proved again that she is a big occasion performer.
Alice Kinsella Park Wrekin, Olympic Hopes
Terrible quality video, but Alice on her way to the AA title at the Olympic Hopes cup in November. A high FTY fully rotated with plenty of time to spare, and a vault that looks ready to upgrade. Alice has a year left in the junior ranks, and will be hoping to start 2016 as strongly as she finished 2015, ready to fight for a place on the junior European team.
Ellie Downie Notts Gymnastics, GB v Holland
Three weeks before Worlds, Ellie casually unveiled a brand new vault. An upgrade to her second vault making the pike a layout, the Lopez was not only ready, but high, extended, and very impressive. Obviously it then went very well at worlds, with Ellie making the vault final and finishing in 4th place. Not only that, but for a brand new vault, it also looks like there is a very real possibility that Ellie could upgrade further, and work the Cheng.
Scarlett Williams Notts Gymnastics, British Espoir Championships VT1
Sometimes it’s just lovely to see a gymnast perform within her means with great form and extension. Scarlett has the time to twist this vault, but how lovely to see the shape fully stretched, hips open, head neutral. She does close the shape a little to land, but nevertheless, the vault stood out enough for me to remember it immediately when I was putting this list together. Scarlett doesn’t graduate to the senior ranks until 2019, so I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her.
Becky Downie Notts Gymnastics, European Championships Apparatus Finals.
The highest scoring, and most successful bar worker of the year, of course this silver medal winning routine makes the list. Packed with difficulty, reliant on complex connections from big releases and transitions, Becky won her second European bar medal in two years with this excellent routine. I can’t imagine there is a single gym fan in Great Britain who isn’t willing Becky to make it to Rio, and be at her absolute best to claim an Olympic medal in 2016.
Tyesha Mattis East London, British Championships Apparatus Finals
Tyesha makes my list having taken the British title at her first senior championships on what is her weakest piece. Only competing beam and bars, and taking both titles, the fact Tyesha was injured for most of 2015 goes down as one of the biggest disappointments, as at her best she was poised to be a huge asset to the senior GB team. I hope to see her back at full strength and challenging for Rio next year.
Georgia Mae Fenton East London, Junior British Championships Apparatus Finals.
Georgia has put in so many excellent bars performances over 2015, purely as her swing and technique make her work stand out so strongly on this piece. For me as I have written many times now, Georgia really gets bars, she uses the bounce, keeps her shoulders open, head neutral, enabling her to swing efficiently, and turn crisply. I don’t actually feel that this was Georgia’s best routine of the year, but I’ve put it on my list, as she was the only other gymnast at the junior British to take a gold when Catherine Lyons won AA and three apparatus finals
Ruby Harrold The Academy, World Team Final
To put this routine into context, five months before she competed it, Ruby couldn’t lift her arm above her head, let along swing bars. Yes she has experience at this level, but a whole year since she had competed at a major event, and after just an outing at the British Teams, and the Osijek Grand Prix just a few weeks before, Ruby showed why she was selected to the world team. Not only is the routine innovative and incredibly difficult, she hit when it mattered, her one job in the team final, first out on the first piece, and she performed brilliantly. The emotion at the end shows exactly what it meant to her.
Kelly Simm Dynamo, GB v Holland.
Earning herself the 6th highest bars score of the GB seniors for 2015, Kelly competed her new routine really well here for 14.450. Kelly impressed on bars early in the year when she debuted a Ray (Toe on Tkatchev) to immediate Tkatchev at the English championships, she of course then went even better by debuting a completely original skill at the FIT challenge, the in bar stalder to piked Tkatchev. Kelly joins Becky Downie as one of two GB gymnasts competing with original skills in their routines
Taeja James City of Birmingham, British Espoir Championships Apparatus Final
Taeja took the bars title with this excellent routine. For me what stands out is her commitment to going that little bit further to truly present a beautiful performance. There have been times this year such as at the School Games where it hasn’t quite worked for her, but this girl is my kind of gymnast, striving for the maximum in her skills. Notice how she’s pushing for those handstands and turns on top of the bar, creating the big swing, the height of the Jaeger and the dismount. It doesn’t happen every time, sometimes she’s a tiny bit short, sometimes she’ll go over the bar, but with another two whole years at junior level, this is the type of work I like to see now, and the type of work that makes excellent senior gymnasts as all these foundations will be solid by then.
Ellesse Oats Park Wrekin, British Teams
I had this routine in mind from the moment I decided to make a list of favourite routines, Junior Ellesse swings so well. Legs locked together, feet stretched, enormous Gienger, beautiful casts and turns right on top of the bar. There is so much potential here that it is no surprise at all Ellesse has a place in the junior Europeans squad from which the 2016 team will be selected. Another gymnast showing that extra little bit of finesse on this piece, it is possible to show artistry on bars, and for me Ellesse demonstrates exactly what that means on this piece.
Ellie Downie Notts Gymnastics, GB v Holland
Continuing her upgrades just before World Championships, Ellie claimed her highest bar score of the year with a 14.70. Adding 0.4 to her D score from earlier in the year, Ellie competed a 6.3 routine having added a Pak to the toe full to piked Tkatckev, as well as a Van Leuween transition back to the high bar.
Next up, beam and floor!