Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Gymnastics medallists 'inspiration'

Great Britain's Kristian Thomas on the podium after winning the bronze medals during the artistic gymnastics team final

Britain's Olympic gymnasts have been lauded after their historic medal win at London 2012.

Team GB members like Kristian Thomas will prove an inspiration for more youngsters to follow in their footsteps, the sport's chiefs said.

John Caulwell, chairman of Earls Gymnastics Club in Halesowen, where Thomas has been a members since the age of five, said: "It is absolutely fantastic, it is such an inspiration to our young gymnasts and our young members for them to have someone like him to look up to. His attitude to his training is just fantastic. To have Kristian here doing what he's doing is just phenomenal. It is a great privilege to have him in the club."

Max Whitlock, 19, travels 90 miles a day, six days a week from his home in Hemel Hempstead to train at South Essex Gymnastics Club, where he has been a member for seven years. Fellow gymnasts crowded round the TV at the club and cheered him on as he took bronze.

Whitlock's training partner Anthony Wise, 16, from Havering, said: "Everyone was going mental each time he was on the TV. It is a bit mental, nobody expected Great Britain to get a medal. We have never got a team medal before, we've never come anywhere, not even qualified. I'm over the moon, he's one of my best mates. He was not even expected to make the team a year ago because he was one of the younger ones."

Sam Oldham updated his Facebook page saying: "I've won Bronze in the Gymnastics Artistic - Men's Team - Final!"

Oldham receives funding of £2,012 from Nottinghamshire County Council's Shining Stars Fund to help with travel and training costs each year.

Council leader Kay Cutts joined his family and friends at The Plough Inn, Normanton on the Wolds, Notts, to watch the drama unfold on a big screen. Notts County Council's culture committee chairman John Cottee said: "Many congratulations to Sam and his team mates for making history in men's gymnastics. We are so proud of them and they will inspire a whole new generation of youngsters."

Tony Dalton, the chairman of Southport YMCA where Daniel Purvis trains at the attached gymnastics club, said the medal winner had been at the club since the age of seven, training five or six days a week. "We are tremendously proud, as you can imagine," Mr Dalton said.

Meanwhile, Britain's drop to a bronze medal after believing they had won silver was a "cruel twist" of fate, according to London 2012 chairman Lord Coe. He told ITV News: "It was a cruel twist at the end but it is still history. It is the first team medal and the atmosphere in that venue this evening was extraordinary. It was rocking. It was just sensational."

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