A new year brings new seniors added to the GB squad, lets have a look at the ladies who have successfully managed to graduate to the highest level of British Gymnastics.
Wishing all of these talented gymnasts a happy, healthy, and successful senior career.
Laura trains at Park Wrekin, under coaches Jemma Parry and Brett Ince. She came through the compulsory system, and first really came to attention in 2012 as a level 3 where she finished 4th at the British Voluntary 3 National Finals. The following year Laura placed third at Compulsory 2, she then passed her Compulsory 1 in 2014 finishing 5th.
2014 was also Laura’s first year in the Espoir ranks, prior to passing her Compulsory 1 she competed in her first English championships placing 24th, she was also now eligible to compete at the British Espoir Championships, where she placed 7th AA, and 6th in the bars final.
In 2015 Laura was part of the silver medal winning English team at the School Games where she also made vault and floor finals. This was at the end of the summer, and it would be a long time before we saw Laura again. Fighting injury, she missed the British Espoir Championships in December, her first English and British Championships in 2016, returning to competition over a year later at the Bill Slater Team Championships in November 2016 competing for club Park Wrekin.
In 2017, her final junior year, Laura made her mark once more in national level competition. Finishing 4th AA at the British Championships, and making Vault, beam and floor finals, Laura then finished 6th at the English Championships where she also took the vault title. Following her success, Laura was named to the 2017 GB junior squad from April to December, of all the British Juniors in 2017, only five managed to outscore her best AA, beam and vault scores. Entering her first senior year in 2018, she has been promoted to the senior squad.
Laura’s Beam from the 2017 British AA
Taeja trains at City of Birmingham under coaches Jody Kime and Krystie Newton. From Level 3 onward, Taeja has been at the top end of her year, taking the Voluntary 3 national title in 2012, both the Compulsory and Voluntary 2 national titles in 2014, and Compulsory 1 in 2014. Taeja finished 7th as a first year Epoir in her first Espoir English Championships in 2014, she was also part of the England team to take gold at the School Games in the same year. At the end of the same year, Taeja placed 4th AA at British Espoirs, as well as taking the bars title.
2015 was Taeja’s second year in the Espoir ranks, she again took part in the School Games, helping team England to silver, finishing 6th AA. In September Taeja was part of the City of Birmingham team to take the Bill Slater Junior Teams title by over ten points, further success followed at the British Espoir Championships in December where she finished 3rd AA, and took the vault and bars titles, as well as bronze on floor.
2016 saw Taeja join the junior ranks, she was selected for her first international event, where she helped the British Junior team to 7th place at International Gymnix. The English Championships followed, silver AA, gold on vault and bars, as well as silver on beam, setting her up well for the British. It was silver AA with a place in the vault, bars, and floor finals where she took bronze on floor.
Following her success, Taeja was selected to compete in two junior internationals. Against France, Switzerland, and Germany, she helped the GB team to the title, and won the AA, she again helped the British team to the title against Italy and Germany just a few weeks later, and was rewarded for her success as the only first year junior selected for the Junior European Championships. Taeja competed AA at the Championships helping the team to the silver medal, a huge achievement. Towards the end of the year, Taeja helped the GB junior team to Olympic Hopes sliver, and won bronze on beam in apparatus finals. She then finished her first junior year with silver on floor at Elite Massilia, beating several seasoned senior internationals to her podium spot.
For her final year in the junior ranks, Taeja stormed the British Championships, taking AA, vault, bars, and floor gold, as well as silver on beam. A week later she became English AA Champion, again taking vault, bars, and floor titles.
In the summer, Taeja helped the British team to bronze in the GB-ITA-FRA-GER-SUI international, she also shared the AA title. A place on the EYOF team was a formality, she didn’t have her best competition in the team event, but came into the AA final at the very last minute, replacing injured team mate Zoe Simmons, and competed well to finish 5th.
We last saw Taeja compete in October at the Rushmoor Rosebowl where she actually competed for the GB senior team, she helped lead them to gold taking the AA title along the way.
What can we expect from Taeja as she begins her senior career, time will tell. What we do know is that she has shown a whole series of impressive upgrades in training, which if she does bring to her senior routines, will see her challenging for international selection from the very off.
Taeja on her way to the British Junior AA title
Jolie Ruckley trains as part of the centralised Welsh system in Cardiff under coach Tracey Skirton. Jolie started to make her mark at Level 3 in 2012, where she finished 5th in compulsories, and took bronze at voluntary national finals. The following year she took silver at national Voluntary 2 finals, then in 2014 she passed her compulsory 1 finishing in 6th place.
Also in 2014, Jolie was selected to compete for the Welsh team at the School Games, where she helped them to the silver medal, and individually won bronze on beam. At the end of the year, Jolie competed in her first British Espoir Championships, where she placed 7th AA, and made the bar final where she finished 4th.
In 2015 Jolie took Northern European gold with the Welsh team, as well as finishing third AA, and taking silver on beam. Jolie was also awarded her first GB international selection, when she competed at Olympic Hopes, taking silver with team GB, and finishing 7th AA. Finishing her Espoir career in style, at the British Espoir Championships in December, Jolie took the AA title and the floor title, as well as silver on bars and beam.
Jolie was a member of the GB Junior European squad ready to right for selection in 2016, and poised to start her junior career.
In February 2016 Jolie competed in the US with her Welsh teammates at the Brestyan International where she took AA silver, as well as silver on vault. A hamstring injury took her out of the junior British, and we then didn’t see Jolie for a whole year as she fought to return to full strength.
In 2017, Jolie returned at the British Championships, she took bronze AA, as well as bronze on bars, beam, and floor. In October Jolie competed for GB juniors at the Rushmoor Rosebowl taking silver with the team, placing 5th AA, winning bronze on bars, and sharing the beam title.
Jolie also won the first Commonwealth trial, and the Welsh junior title toward the end of 2017, she finished her year at Top Gym International taking gold in the team event with Welsh teammate Zoe Simmons, where they were paired with Norway.
Jolie enters the senior ranks with her first big task to try and secure a spot on the Welsh Commonwealth Games team as they aim to replicate their podium finish from 2014, and she is well placed to do so.
Jolie’s bronze medal winning floor from the 2017 British Championships.
Two of the new seniors remain in the junior squad ranks for the first three months GB squad selection over 2018, as the initial selection period runs only up until the 31st of March. I imagine we will see them graduate to the senior squad as the year progresses.
Zoe Simmons trains at The Academy under coaches Liz Kincaid, and Nia Edwards. Zoe came through the Challenge Cup route to national level, by winning the Espoir event in 2014 making her eligible for British Championships. Another great example of why passing national compulsories in age aren’t the be all and end all for elite gymnastics in Great Britain, Zoe is one of several girls now in national squad that had the potential and capability to reach the top end, without having to be at the top end from nine years old.
Having qualified for the British Espoir Championships in 2014, Zoe placed 10th AA, and finished 4th on vault, earlier in the same year, she competed as a guest (Zoe is a Welsh gymnast) at the English Championships where she would have placed 15th AA in the main field. Zoe also competed for The Academy at the Bill Slater Junior Teams where she took bronze with her club, placed 4th AA, and 3rd on vault.
In 2015, Zoe again competed as a guest at the English Championships, competing on bars and beam only. She would have taken the beam silver were her scores included in the main field. In the same year, Zoe represented Wales at the School Games, taking gold with her team, and placing 8th AA. Zoe took bronze with The Academy at British Teams, and silver a day later at the Bill McLoughlin National Apparatus team Championships. Continuing her very busy September, gold with the Welsh team at the Northern European Championships followed a week later. Zoe finished 8th AA at her second British Espoir Championships, as well as claiming bronze on vault.
2016 saw Zoe enter the junior ranks, she began with silver AA at the Welsh Championships, as well as bronze on each individual apparatus. Gold at British Teams with The Academy followed, then a great showing at her first junior British, 5th AA, and a brilliant gold in the floor final.
Zoe was rewarded with her first GB international at the end of April where she took gold with the junior team against France, Switzerland, and Germany. At the end of the Summer she won gold once more with the Welsh team at the School Games, placing 4th AA, and winning silver on vault and floor. In the autumn Zoe won gold once more with the Welsh team, this time at the junior Commonwealth Games in Namibia, she then won gold again at the Rushmoor Rosebowl, this time with the British team. Zoe finished her first junior year with another GB international assignment, helping the team to silver at Olympic Hopes.
For her final junior year in 2107, Zoe placed 6th at the British Championships, winning bronze on vault, and silver on floor in apparatus finals. Competing as a guest at the English Championships, Zoe’s AA total would have placed her 3rd in the main field despite a number of falls, she was also the top scorer on vault and beam. Zoe was selected for international duty at the GB-ITA-FRA-GER-SUI international, helping the team to bronze, she was then selected onto the team for EYOF where she helped the team to 5th place, and qualified for the AA final, although an injury in warm up unfortunately meant she was unable to take part.
In the autumn, Zoe competed for The Academy at the Adrain Stan British Team Championships helping them to silver, then again for the South West team at the Bill Mcloughlin National Apparatus Team Championships, where she again won silver with her team, and was the highest scorer on vault.
Ending her busy year, and her junior career with silver AA at the Welsh Championships, then gold with Welsh team mate Jolie Ruckley, and two juniors from Norway at the Top Gym International, as well as individual bronze on floor; like Jolie, Zoe’s first big senior challenge is the battle for places on the Welsh Commonwealth Games team.
Queen of the double front, we have seen double front half out from bars, and straight front double front on floor in competition during the latter half of the year, and in training double front beam dismount to hard landing.
Zoe’s silver medal winning floor from 2017 British Championships
Megan Splain trains at Leatherhead and Dorking under coaches Sadie Herbert, and Alberto Cacace. Megan did well from the off, placing second at National Voluntary 4 Finals, then the following year taking bronze at National Compulsory 3 Finals, and placing 9th at National Voluntary 3, then 2013, she placed 5th at National Voluntary 2 Finals.
In 2014, Megan passed her Compulsory 1, and helped Sapphire to 5th place at the Bill Slater junior teams, as well as individually placing 3rd on beam. Megan missed the 2014 British Espoir Championships, then due to injury, she was out for a long time, and we didn’t see her again until the British Espoir Championships a year later, when she placed 12th AA, and made the floor final.
Entering the junior ranks, in 2016, Megan placed 3rd AA at the Welsh Open, as well as second on vault and bars. She was also part of the Sapphire team to place 5th at British Teams. At the English Championships Megan placed 4th AA, as well as taking bronze on beam, then at her first British Junior Championships, Megan placed 6th AA, and took bronze on beam in apparatus finals.
In 2017, Megan placed 3rd AA, 1st on vault and beam, and equal 3rd on floor at the magical Classic in the USA. At the Junior British she placed 9th AA, making the floor final where she placed 4th. Megan was 4th AA at the English Junior Championships, sharing bronze on beam.
We last saw Megan In the Autumn of 2017, when she helped Leatherhead and Dorking to team bronze at the Adrian Stan British team Championships. I look forward to seeing her make her senior debut.
Megan’s Floor from 2017 british Junior Apparatus Finals.