2016 School Games: Meet The Team – Wales.

In this second team feature ahead of the 2016 School Games, a look at team Wales. Defending Champions Wales come to the 2016 games with an almost unaltered team from the the one that took the 2015 title. They are missing reigning British Espoir Champion Jolie Ruckley who has unfortunately been out of competition so far this year with injury, but will still field a very strong team, featuring three British junior squad members and internationals. With the 2018 Commonwealth Games in  just two years away, these are the young ladies to watch, as Wales build their team for the Gold Coast Games in Australia.

Let’s meet the Gymnasts.

Maisie Methuen

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Club – Phoenix Gymnastics
Coaches – Tracey Skirton, Mark Calton
Turning Senior – 2017

Leading the Welsh team, a young gymnast that needs little introduction, such is her standing as one of the top British juniors. Heading for the senior ranks as of 2017, Maisie will be looking to make her mark on the senior squad over the next quad, and be fighting for a place on the Tokyo team in 2020. Maisie is the reigning British junior champion, and has been a regular GB junior international over the last couple of years. Her international results include a vault final spot at the prestigious International Japan junior, a silver medal on beam at EYOF, and of course most recently team silver, 4th AA (the second highest AA placing ever by a British junior), and a beam final spot at junior Europeans. Maisie is a very clean gymnast, and has been building her difficulty as she heads towards the senior ranks. We may possibly see some new work from her this weekend, potentially her double arabian opener on floor which she has used just once in a international friendly just before junior Europeans. Maisie will look to lead Wales to a defence of the team title, and will hope to take the AA title as well as several event final medals.

Maisie’s floor from the 2016 Junior British

 

Latalia Bevan

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Club – St. Tydvil
Coaches – Tracey Skirton, Mark Calton
Turning Senior – 2017

If things had gone differently for Latalia, 2016 would likely have been a year similar to Maisie’s. Toward the end of 2015 she took the school games title, ahead of team mate Maisie and fellow British junior squad members Louise McColgan, Taeja James, Sophie Scott, and Megan Parker. Latalia then led the Welsh team to the Northern European championship title, as well as taking the AA, beam and floor titles. Finishing the year as a member of the British team to take the Olympic Hopes Cup title in December, Latalia was all set for 2016 to be a successful finale to her junior career. She had a strong start to 2016 at the Brestyan international back in January where despite being a junior, Latalia competed in the Senior A category and still managed to take the AA title, bronze on vault, and gold on bars, beam and floor. Unfortunately from then on, injury has hampered Latalia for much of 2016 causing her to miss the British championships, and a likely spot on the junior Europeans team. In July Latalia was able to return to competition at the Gemau Cymru event, where although she didn’t compete full difficulty, she was able to compete AA for the first time in a very long time. I do not know whether Latialia is back to her best at present, and of course unlike her contemporaries, she hasn’t had the opportunity to upgrade, but she is certainly on her way.

Latalia’s floor from the 2015 Northern European Championships

 

Zoe Simmons

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Club – The Academy
Coach – Liz Kincaid
Turning Senior – 2018

Zoe is an up and coming junior, with another year left of competition, before turning senior in 2018. Unlike many of the Welsh gymnasts, she is not based in Wales and part of the centralised system, but rather trains at The Academy along side fellow British junior, and Team England member of the 2016 Games Amelia Knight, as well as British senior squad members Abi Solari, and Phoebe Turner, and of course up until very recently, Ruby Harrold. In December 2015 Zoe finished eighth AA at the British Espoir Championships, and took the bronze on vault. Zoe has had a great start to her junior career, helping club The Academy to the British Teams title, finishing 5th AA at the British championships, making three finals, and taking the floor title with a lovely routine including a fantastic double front to stag leap. She was rewarded with her first international call up, when she was part of the gold medal winning British team at the four way GB-FRA-SUI-GER international.

Zoe’s British junior championships winning floor.

 

Holly Jones

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Club – Swansea Gymnastics Centre
Coach – Natalie Lucitt-Jenkins
Turing senior – 2017

Holly has been a regular on the Welsh team for the school games, first representing her country back in 2013, the same year she took the Espoir Challenge Cup title. This will be her last opportunity to do so, as she turns senior next year. In 2015 her first year as a junior, Holly placed tenth AA, and did very well to take the floor bronze behind Catherine Lyons and Louise McColgan at the British Championships. Holly was injured with a stress fracture to her back for the first half of 2016 which is why we haven’t seen her as yet, she is now fully recovered, and will be looking to help the Welsh team retain the team title this weekend.

Holly’s floor from the 2014 Celtic Cup

 

Emily Thomas

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Club – Pen-Y- Bont
Coach – Tracey Skirton
Turning Senior – 2017

Emily Thomas was part of the 2015 winning Welsh team, contributing everywhere but bars, and will be hoping to help her team replicate their success. Emily competed at the British championships as an espoir, but we haven’t see her at junior national level. In 2015 Emily took bronze at the Celtic Cup, she has been battling injury over this year, but was able to compete at Gamau Cymru, where she took silver behind Latalia Bevan

I don’t have any video of Emily at the moment, but will add one should it become available.

Good luck team Wales!

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