The first major event of the year, The English Championships will take place 09th-11th February at the Redbridge Sports and Leisure Centre Essex.
Espoir, Junior and Senior WAG gymnasts will compete alongside the MAG 12 and Under, 14 and Under, 16 and Under, 18 and Under, and Senior gymnasts.
For those wishing to attend the event, tickets are available through gymdata, every age group is well worth attending, there will be some brilliant and beautiful gymnastics on display.
Friday 9th Feb: WAG Espoir, MAG 12 and Under
08:00 Doors open
09:35 Round 1 competition starts
12:35 Round 2 competition starts
16:00 Round 3 competition starts
Saturday 10th Feb: WAG Senior, MAG 18 and Under, MAG Senior
08:00 Doors open
10:10 Round 1 competition starts
13:40 Presentation (MAG 18 and Under)
15:10 Round 2 competition starts
18:10 Presentation (WAG and MAG Senior)
Sunday 11th Feb: WAG Junior, MAG 14 and Under, MAG 16 and Under
07:30 Doors open
09:30 Round 1 Competition starts
13:30 Round 2 Competition starts
16:30 Presentation (MAG 14 and Under)
18:05 Round 3 Competition starts
20:55 Presentation (WAG Junior, MAG 16 and Under)
In recent years, Gymdata have streamed a split screen covering all apparatus on their YouTube channel. They are aiming to provide the same coverage, but the change in venue from Loughborough to Redbridge may apparently bring some issues with internet quality, so we will have to wait to find out on the day(s).
I will of course be providing results up here on the blog, and you can follow results on the gymdata site too.
Start lists are up, at posting, this is the most recent start list available, released today. Even the most up to date list isn’t always 100% accurate though, as unfortunately there are usually late withdrawals.
Reigning Espoir Champion Shanna-Kae Grant of Leeds
It’s just a couple of months since we saw the Espoirs in action at the British in December. Many of those at the top there have moved up to the junior age group as of January 1st, including reigning champion Shanna-Kae Grant, so lets look at who could challenge.
Of the second year Epoirs, looking back to the British, three from the top ten are entered to the English: Greenwich Royals Maddie Roberts finished 5th AA, then took gold on vault, and silver on floor in apparatus finals. Roxanne Price of Bristol Hawks finished 6th AA, Alice Sumners of The Academy 10th AA, 6th on floor, and 7th on beam.
Vault finalist Alia Leat of Heathrow, bars finalists Darcy Chesters of Warrington, and Ruby Stacey of Plymouth Swallows, and floor finalists Ellen Armstrong of City of Liverpool, and Sophia Cabrera of City of Birmingham are also listed to compete.
Coming into the Espoir ranks from level 2, we have several of the top gymnasts from national finals back in November. We won’t be seeing the hugely strong Welsh contingent from this age group here competing as guests, but we will see South Essex continuing to come out of the age group ranks in numbers, with a team of six, including Paige Mornoney and Ellie Petriou who have consistently done very well in their age group. Also listed is GB development squad member City of Manchester’s Renee Pullin who is an exciting talent.
Reigning Junior Champion Taeja James City of Birmingham
The junior competition will also see a new champion, with 2017 Champion Taeja James now a senior gymnast. If everyone listed competes, this will be an absolute treat to watch, packed with excellent gymnastics from both first and second year juniors.
Of those that were juniors last year, GB internationals Amelie Morgan and Phoebe Jakubczyk of The Academy will both be looking to finish on the podium AA and as apparatus medalists. If Amelie is fully fit, it is difficult to see anyone taking the title from her should she compete well. GB junior squad members Hallie Copperwheat of Sapphire, and Mia Scott of South Durham are also scheduled to compete here, and will be looking to impress.
The three Welsh and GB juniors Paige, Amelia and and Sioned Thomas are not listed as guest competitors at this time, it also looks as though we won’t be seeing fellow GB junior squad member Heathrow’s Roshelle Spencer Smith which is a real shame.
Of those that have moved up from the Espoir age group, the top four from the British AA (all GB junior squad members) are listed. Champion Ondine Achampong of Sapphire, and silver medalist Annie Young of Norfolk Academy can push for medals, as can fourth placed Halle Hilton. Sadly, bronze medalist, and reigning English Espoir Champion Shanna-Kae Grant of Leeds will not, as she is recovering from ankle injury. I am happy to see junior Europeans not until later in the year, as Shanna-Kae can very much push for a spot on the team, so she has time to come back to full strength. GB squad member Leah Greenland of South Durham is also scheduled to compete, so the top British juniors are out in force here.
Reigning Senior Champion Sophie Scott
Welsh contingent aside, nearly the entire GB senior squad are listed to compete at present (Ellessse Oates continues her recovery from a foot injury, and hopes to return for the British). What we don’t know, is who will compete AA, and my guess is that perhaps not everyone will be (of those than regularly compete AA) and therefore we don’t know who is going to challenge for the title.
The GB seniors have been trialling at Lilleshall this past weekend, the first step to Commonwealth Games selection, then followed by these English Championships.
It’s a big year for the senior British ladies, with the Commonwealth Games in the spring, the inaugural European Games in the Summer, and then the first World Championships that count toward Tokyo qualification in the autumn. Pacing, peaking and staying healthy to challenge for the big teams will be key for these ladies through the year, so anyone not 100% fit will not be pushing for this title, via full difficulty or forcing an AA competition, and rightly so.
What we will get is our first look at the seniors for 2018, likely some new skills and combinations tried out in a competition environment where hitting isn’t as vital as later events this year. We will also see some senior debuts that I know many are looking forward to, Taeja James, Zoe Simmons, and Megan Splain among them, and the welcome return of several GB senior squad members that had their 2017 cut short by injury, including both Downie sisters according to the list, Gabby Jupp who may or may not bring her hugely impressive Nabieva release on bars, and the ever elegant Megan Parker
Good luck to all gymnasts competing at all levels, have a great competition!