Before looking ahead into 2018, we thought we’d take a glance back over the achievements of Team GB, who have been coming on leaps and bounds over the past few years. 2017 saw a number of ups and downs for the ladies, including some unfortunate injuries, but generally speaking, it was yet another good year for this team.
January saw some promising juniors turn senior, perhaps most notably Alice Kinsella of Park Wrekin Gymnastics Club. A very strong gymnast at espoir and junior level, Alice was already making an impression back in 2016, when she won silver medals at the European Championships in Switzerland in junior beam and floor finals, showcasing her signature elegant, mature style. Her first senior year started off equally well, with Alice claiming the all around silver medal at the British Championships in March, behind Ellie Downie. Initially chosen as a reserve for the team for the European Championships in Romania in April, Alice was flown in at the last minute as a replacement for her injured teammate, Georgia-Mae Fenton. Having missed podium training, Alice nevertheless delivered a very confident performance in qualifications, making it through to the all around final, where she finished in 10th place following an uncharacteristic fall from the uneven bars. Alice was then selected as part of the team representing Great Britain at the World Championships in Montreal, where she qualified for the all around final. Unfortunately, she sustained an injury during qualifications and was unable to compete in the final, but on the whole, 2017 was an excellent first senior year for Alice and we’re very excited to see what’s to come in 2018.
Another prominent member of the GB team throughout 2017 was Georgia-Mae Fenton. A talented and successful junior, she turned senior in 2016, but a strong field of established gymnasts battling for spots on the Olympic team meant that Georgia was not selected for any major international meets that year. 2017 saw Georgia finishing in 4th place in the all around at the British Championships and receiving a silver medal for her beautiful bars routine. After this strong start to the year, Georgia’s fortunes took a turn for the worse, with injuries forcing her to withdraw from both the World Cup event in London and the European Championships in Romania. Fortunately, she was able to recover within a few months to claim a silver medal at the Varna World Cup in Bulgaria in September and she was then selected as part of the Worlds Team. Georgia delivered an elegant and innovative bar routine in Montreal, narrowly missing the bars final. She did, however, get an element named after her in the Code of Points (a Stalder release hecht with half turn), making 2017 a largely successful one for the 17-year-old from East London Gymnastics Club.
Amy Tinkler started 2017 with lots of expectation on her shoulders, after a hugely successful 2016 which saw her winning an Olympic bronze medal on floor. The year started off with Amy moving clubs, from South Durham to South Essex, where many of the male gymnasts train. Despite moving to the other end of the country, continuing with her A-Level studies and learning to drive, Amy managed to place third at the World Cup event in London. After some difficulties with injuries throughout the year, Amy was selected as part of the Worlds team. Having had surgery just a few weeks prior to the event, she was unable to reach her full potential and did not make any individual apparatus finals, but she did qualify to the All Around final, where she placed 17th. We’re looking forward to seeing Amy return in 2018!
Claudia Fragapane has been one of the golden girls of British Gymnastics since she arrived onto the international scene back in 2014. After a disappointing Olympics where she just missed out on qualifying for the floor final, Claudia signed up to appear on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in late 2016, following in the footsteps of former Team GB gymnast Louis Smith. Claudia’s energy and contagious laughter made her a big hit with viewers and she made it all the way to the semi final, not only giving her a confidence boost, but also allowing her to work on her artistry by learning different styles of dance, particularly on floor. Working with her longtime coaches at Bristol Hawks Gymnastics, Claudia integrated her dance skills into a brand new floor routine for 2017 and the effort paid off, rewarding her with a silver medal on floor in the British Championships. Claudia was then selected as part of the team for the European Championships in Romania. Having qualified for the floor final in second place, a wildly uncontrolled landing on the double arabian in her second pass saw her stagger out of bounds, putting her out of medal contention. Following several months of hard work in the gym, Claudia put in a solid performance at the World Cup event in Paris in September, where she took the floor title, and then a few weeks later, won the bronze medal on floor at Worlds in Montreal despite a shaky start to her routine. Now that Claudia has integrated more artistry and dance to go hand in hand with her impressive tumbling skills, she remains one to watch in 2018.
Veteran team member Rebecca Downie got off to a good start in 2017 with a bronze medal on bars at the British Championships. She was selected for the European Championships in Romania, where she performed well in qualifications, placing 4th for bars and 8th for beam. However, Rebecca sustained a nasty injury during the bars final and was unable to finish her routine. She was forced to give up her place in the beam final and scans later revealed an elbow injury, which kept her out of competition for the rest of the year, but she plans to return in 2018.
Ellie Downie, like teammate Fragapane, had a disappointing Olympics, but came back with a vengeance in 2017 to win gold medals in the all around, vault and bars at the British Championships. After deciding to pull out of the World Cup event in London due to an injury, Ellie travelled with the team to Romania for the Europeans, where her performance exceeded all expectations. Having qualified for the all around and every event final, many wondered whether she would succumb to the pressure, but in addition to taking the all around title, Ellie won silver medals on floor and vault and a bronze on bars. We were all very much looking forward to seeing how Ellie would fare in Montreal, but unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Ellie ended up needing surgery on her ankle over the summer and was unable to compete at Worlds. She has set her sights on coming back in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and we can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve this year.