Somehow we’ve arrived in November again, which means it’s time for the annual Olympic Hopes Cup held in Liberec Croatia. This prestigious international junior event sees gymnasts from around the world gather to compete. The British team have a strong history here taking the last four team, and three AA titles, an achievement the 2016 team will hope to emulate.
The competition is open to second year Espoir, and both junior years, so for 2016 those born 2001-2003. It’s a young British team this year, with two Espoirs, three first year juniors, and just one second year junior selected.
The format is 6-5-4, however the sixth member of the team can be put up on to compete on any apparatus to add to their individual total, and try to qualify for apparatus finals.
Open to WAG and MAG teams, the WAG team arrived in Croatia today, they can train after the MAG competition tomorrow, and then again on Friday morning before their competition starts on Friday afternoon. For 2016, there are separate apparatus finals, an addition to the usual schedule.
Full Schedule: Please note that Liberec is an hour ahead of us, so take an hour off each time.
The competition will be streamed live again this year, you can view it here:
Meet the team
Second year Welsh and British junior international Latalia Bevan is just weeks away from beginning her senior career. Latalia had a very strong finish to her 2015 taking the School Games title, the Northern European title, and helping the British team to the Olympic Hopes Cup. She started 2016 strongly taking the senior title at the Brestyan Cup. Latalia then unfortunately battled injury throughout much of 2016, missing the British, and her chance for a junior European spot. She returned to competition at the School Games in September where she again took the AA title, and helped her Welsh team to gold. Latalia contributed to the Welsh team gold at the recent junior Commonwealth Games in Namibia, and added the bars silver individually.
First year junior City of Birmingham’s Taeja James is looking very likely to lead the British junior ranks in 2017. In her first year in this age group, she placed second AA at the English including gold on vault and bars, and silver on beam, she then took then AA silver and floor bronze at the British championships. Helping the team to gold, at the GB-ITA-GER international, and again plus winning the AA at the GB-FRA-SUI-GER international helped secure her spot on the junior European team, where of course she helped the team to the silver medal.
First year junior Zoe Simmons of The Academy has had a busy international year in 2016. Starting the year with a fantastic 5th place finish at the British, and becoming British junior floor champion, Zoe was given a GB international call up for the GB-FRA-SUI-GER international where she helped the team to the title. Zoe also competed for GB at the recent Rushmoor Rosebowl , where she was the only junior on the British team that took the title. Zoe has also been very busy for Wales, helping them to the School Games title where she finished 4th AA and took silver on both vault and floor, as well as the junior Commonwealth team title in Namibia.
Last of the first year juniors, Chiara Bunce of Heathrow is an up and coming junior gymnast starting to appear on team selections as she heads into her second year. 6th AA at the English with a bronze on beam, Chiara finished 10th at the British, and made the bars final finishing 6th. Recently Chiara took silver with the English team at the School Games, and individually won the bronze on bars. Chiara also competed at the Rushmoor Rosebowl for Heathrow where she helped them to the title in the club division, as well as taking the AA. In the apparatus finals which were contested between International, regional, and club competitors all together, Chiara placed 4th on bars, and took silver on beam.
First of the Espoirs, Slough’s Amelie Morgan is very much one to watch. One of only two Espoir gymnasts selected to the British junior national squad for May-December 2016, Amelie was the combined compulsory and voluntary British champion at levels 3 and 2, as well as taking the compulsory one British title last spring, and then placing 4th AA in her first British Espoir championships in December 2015, where she also made all apparatus finals and took silver on vault, gold on beam, and sliver on floor. Amelie took the English Espoir title earlier this year, bronze on vault, gold on bars and beam, and sliver on floor. At the School Games, Amelie took silver with the English team, bronze AA, on beam and on floor. Amelie will be the favourite for the British Espoir title in December. She is unquestionably the strongest gymnast from her year, and definitely one to watch for the next junior European championships in 2018.
Scarlett Williams of Notts was the second Espoir selected into the British junior squad for 2016. Having passed her compulsory 1 last year, Scarlett then placed 5th at British Epoirs, the second placed of the younger gymnasts in the competition. Scarlett also qualified for two finals, finishing fourth on vault, and sixth on bars. At the English championships this year, Scarlett placed 5th AA, shared the vault gold, and placed 4th on bars. Like Amelie, Scarlett will be looking to do very well at the up coming British Espoir championships in December, before she joins the junior ranks in 2017, and works toward fighting for a place on the 2018 junior European team.
Good luck gymnasts, have a great competition!