Honiton gymnasts start new season in real style

Jack Britten, Devon Roe-Lavery, coach Helen Reddy, Catie Lee and Valentine Tutcher.

Jack Britten, Devon Roe-Lavery, coach Helen Reddy, Catie Lee and Valentine Tutcher. - Credit: Archant

The acrobatic gymnastics season is well and truly under way for Honiton Gymnastics Club men’s pair Devon Roe-Lavery and Jack Britten.

Jack Britten throws Devon Roe-Lavery

Jack Britten throws Devon Roe-Lavery - Credit: Archant

In two recent competitions the duo have won silver medals.

However, it is their perfomance at the Bristol International that really made the pair stand out, as they were competing against gymnasts from the top clubs in Great Britain.

Nine-year-old Devon, a pupil at Honiton Primary School, and 14-year-old Jack, a student at Westfield Academy in Yeovil, were competing in the Grade 4 men’s pair discipline.

“The first competitions of the season are often an anxious time for gymnasts,” said Honiton Gymnastics Club high performance coach James Reddy, “but the lads took them in their stride. They’ve still got a long way to go, but if they continue to work hard there’s every chance that they could compete at 11-16 international age group level by the end of the year and at the British Championships in 2016.”

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Jack and Devon scored 26.56 out of a possible 30 at the Bristol Invitational and finished 0.34 behind rivals Illya Freeman and Sammy Nassem from Next Dimension Gymnastics Academy in Tunbridge Wells.

Honiton Gymnastics Club has a strong tradition in acrobatic boys and men’s pairs, with experienced pair Buster Tutcher and Ashley Wallis taking medals at British Championships, international tournaments, and trialling for the world championships in 2014. Adam Fullick and Matt Beviss also came third in the Pat Wade Classic last year, while Jamie Jeffery and Matt Beviss took gold at the 2014 Geneva International Acro Cup and silver at the national finals in 2013.

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“Some gymnastic clubs struggle attracting boys, but in Honiton our older male gymnasts provide positive role models for the younger gymnasts, which means we get even more boys coming through. Gymnastics is a great sport for their strength, flexibility, confidence and general motor skills.”

It wasn’t only the boys who had a strong competition though. Littletown Primary’s Catie Lee and partner Valentine Tutcher (who attends the Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis) took the bronze medal in the Grade 5 women’s pair event. The partnership upped their difficulty from last year, with Valentine throwing Catie for a piked backwards somersault, Catie holding a handstand on Valentine’s hands as she slid to splits, and Catie performing a backwards somersault in her tumble series for the first time in competition.

In the grade 4 women’s trio competition, Erin Blackmore from Littletown Primary School also had a strong competition with partners Shelley Quick and Natalia Pushkarev, both of whom attend the Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis. They finished in 10th position in an extremely strong field against some of the best acrobats in the country.

“It’s great to see our gymnasts competing so well in such a high-level field,” added James. “These invitational events are also a great opportunity for them to broaden their horizons and meet other gymnasts from different parts of the country. They represented themselves and Honiton Gymnastics Club admirably.”

Following the Bristol Invitational and the regional prelims, the gymnasts are now back in the gym training 13.5 hours per week to learn new moves for the Turin International Acro Cup, which takes place in July.

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