The European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) will take place from the 23rd to the 30th of July in Gyor Hungary. It is a multi sport event, complete with opening and closing ceremonies, and Olympic village, giving junior athletes the opportunity to experience this type of competition as they work towards the Tokyo Olympic Games and beyond.
I will post full details of the competition, and how to follow the event nearer the time, but for now, meet the three young British Juniors selected to represent their country against the best of Europe.
A strong team with great potential, and three very different types of gymnast have been selected.
Second year junior Taeja James trains at The City of Birmingham under coaches Jody Kime and Kristie Newton. Taeja will be very familiar to followers of the British juniors, as a first year she was selected for the International Gymnix event, took the AA silver medal at the English Championships, as well as the vault and bars titles, and silver on beam. She then took the AA silver at the British Championships, and bronze on floor, helped the GB junior team to gold at the GB-FRA-SUI-GER international, where she also took the AA title, then again helped the GB team to gold at the GB-ITA-GER international, and was rewarded with a place on the junior Europeans team where she helped GB to team silver. Towards the end of her first junior year, Taeja competed at the Olympic Hopes Cup in Croatia where she helped the team to the silver medal, and won beam bronze individually. Taeja finished her year with selection to the Elite Masillia event where she was competing against senior gymnasts, including Olympic medalists, and did very well to make the bars final where she finished fifth, and the floor final where she took the silver medal.
Moving into her second year as a junior, Taeja has dominated this age group so far, by becoming English and British AA Champion, as well as taking three of the four apparatus titles at both events. She has upgraded her difficulty this year, and still has more to come, she is also one of the few junior gymnasts world wide to use two different vault entires, vaulting a single twisting Yurchenko and single twisting Tskakahra, both have the time and space for a double twist, so it is just a question of time before we see them in competition.
Taeja is one of the real rising AA stars of British Gymnastics, with the potential to become GB’s strongest gymnast one day. She is dynamic, powerful and clean with a growing skill set, and when she is working with confidence, she is sharp, snappy, and fluid throughout her routines. If Taeja does manage to fulfil her enormous potential, there’ll be no stopping her. For now, lets enjoy watching her final year in the junior ranks, as she head to Hungary to test herself against Europe’s best.
The youngest of the team, first year junior Amelie Morgan trains at The Academy of Gymnastics under coaches Liz Kincaid and Nia Edwards. As an Espoir age gymnast last year, Amelie was selected to compete in both the School Games, and the Olympic Hopes Cup, both junior level events. Amelie helped the English team to silver at the School Games, claiming bronze AA, only outscored by now GB senior squad members Maisie Methuen and Latalia Bevan. At the Olympic Hopes Cup, Amelie competed superbly helping the GB team to silver, and taking AA silver herself with 55.100, the second highest AA total of any GB junior gymnast in 2016, and not even a junior in age at that point. Amelie also recorded the highest individual vault score of the GB juniors in 2016, with 14.450 for her full twisting Yurchenko at the same competition, she also took bronze on beam in the apparatus finals.
Amelie has only competed in the British Championships so far this year, and made an excellent start to her junior career. Silver AA to Taeja James, and the only gymnast to stop Taeja’s clean sweep when she took the beam title. For fans that only follow junior and up age gymnasts, Amelie’s arrival in the junior ranks was met with a hugely positive response as expected. She is a beautiful gymnast, elegant and expressive with great performance quality, lines and flexibility, the international audience is likely to really appreciate her style. Always scoring well with the E panel, Amelie really is another great AA gymnast in the making, and has a hugely promising future ahead of her.
Second year junior Zoe trains at The Academy of Gymnastics under coaches Liz Kincaid and Nia Edwards. In her first year as a junior in 2016, Zoe helped her Academy team mates to the British Team title, took silver behind Maisie Methuen at the Welsh junior championships, and competed brilliantly at the British Championships to finish fifth AA, and take the floor title. Zoe was part of the GB team that took gold at the GB-FRA-GER-SUI international, she was also selected to compete for Wales at the School Games, and took home Gold with her team as she had when selected as an Espoir in 2015, she also took silver on both vault and floor here. Also in 2016, Zoe competed for Wales at the junior Commonwealth Games where she helped her team to gold, and finished 7th AA. Zoe finished her first junior year with selection for GB at the Rushmoor Rosebowl where she helped the team to gold, and international selection again, where she was part of the silver medal winning British team at the Olympic Hopes Cup. Here she also made the floor final finishing in 6th place.
Zoe has competed British and English Championships so far this year, at the British she finished in 6th place counting a fall, then took bronze on vault and silver on floor in apparatus finals. At the English Championships, being Welsh, Zoe competed as a guest, and therefore wasn’t eligible for medals. Were she competing in the main field, she’d have tied for AA bronze despite having three falls on the day, she’d have also taken both beam and vault golds. Zoe also upgraded there, and from the video below, adding a two and half twist to full twisting straight front as a first tumble, she then tumbled her excellent double front as her second.
Zoe is a tiny firecracker of a gymnast, and this year she really seems to be forging ahead towards her senior career, and fighting for a place on the Welsh Commonwealth Games team in 2018. She looks like a gymnast that is just going to get stronger and stronger as a senior, and is an exciting talent. In particular she is the double front queen, mastering this skill on floor, and as bars and beam dismounts!