Date: 14th December 2013
Location: Colchester School of Gymnastics
Rules: Routines are performed on a 12m x 12m mat with a safety border of 1m. The mat has a surface elasticity to allow for power during take-off. The routine is accompanied by instrumental music to enhance the performance. The routines should combine connections of dance movements with a variety of tumbling and acrobatic elements, using the whole floor area. It should be varied in mood, tempo and direction, with a maximum length of 90 seconds. The judges look for individuality, maturity, artistry and mastery of presentation.
London 2012 Winner: Aly Raisman, USA.
Sarah: We went to a couple of practice sessions, and were wowed by the agility and strength of others in the group. It turns out that doing cartwheels aged 31 isn't as simple (or graceful) as when I was a child. When it came to performing the routine, I felt really uncomfortable, and conscious that I was SO far from the tumbles and moves of the others in the class. We both enjoyed doing research and planning our routines, but mine, set to The Commodores 'Machine Gun', was basic to say they least. Though technically it fulfilled all the criteria in the rules, I dread to think what my score would have been! I'm going to keep practicing and aim to be able to do a cartwheel by the time we start our Rhythmic Gymnastics routines.
Ellie: Never have we looked more like a sketch from a French and Saunders special. To say we were nervous of embarrassing ourselves is an understatement! These routines look spectacular and effortless when performed by Olympic Gymnasts but I felt a lot like one of those tutu wearing hippos in Fantasia; only nowhere near as graceful. That being said this is one of my favourite events so far! It was lovely to be able to waltz across a sprung floor, putting together some moves to Britney (Yes, I used 'Work B*tch'; it seemed appropriate)! And if I even had 1% of the skill level of any of the gymnasts that do this properly I'd be over the moon.
I spent some time watching YouTube videos and researching moves to use and the practice sessions at Colchester School of Gymnastics were perfect for cultivating my enthusiasm. They run adult drop-in sessions where you can use the equipment with as much or as little tuition as you like and some of the people there are incredibly talented.
In an ideal world I would have been able to do some flips or spins or something more akin to the real gymnasts but I'm proud that I overcame my nerves and now have so much more appreciation for the level of skill needed to be able to perform such things with so much style and precision.