Inspirational experience for Scottish gymnasts

Young disabled gymnasts from all over Scotland, were invited to take part in a two-day disability gymnastics training camp taking place in Aberdeen over the weekend, 21st-22nd July.

The gymnasts were very excited to get underway with training on the first morning of the camp; but shortly after the start of their training session, the gymnasts got the shock of their lives, as Olympic medallist and gymnastics hero, Dan Purvis made a surprise visit to spend the day with the gymnasts and coaches. As an ambassador for the British Gymnastics Foundation, Dan’s visit was part of the charity’s Inspirational Experiences Programme, which aims to transform lives through gymnastics.

From the moment the gymnasts saw Dan coming into the training hall, it was clear to see the levels of excitement were high! The star-struck gymnasts soon got stuck in and asked plenty of questions to Dan, before they enjoyed a once in a life-time coaching masterclass from their hero.

Dan worked well with the gymnasts and it was so clear to see how much both the gymnasts and Dan enjoyed working with each other. During the day, Dan shared his gymnastics experiences and top tips with the gymnasts, he led some parts of the sessions and coached all the gymnasts; he even performed some gymnastics which made everyone’s jaws drop!

The 2018 training camp organised by Lorna Presly, was the second time this great event has taken place; and it is run as a non-profit event, which relies on all coaches volunteering. The short-term aim of the camp is to help gymnasts increase their potential as they experience multi-discipline gymnastics and raise their game amongst their fellow gymnasts.

In the long-term, the camp aims to initiate and foster collaboration amongst Scottish clubs. This collaboration plays a very important part in establishing communication between coaches with experiences in the different disciplines of Disability Gymnastics and who share a common interest and vision.

All coaches volunteer over the two-day camp, and this year they came from Banchory Gymnastics, Beacon Gymnastics, Beacon Rhythmic Gymnastics, City of Aberdeen Gymnastics, City of Glasgow Gymnastics, Garioch Gymnastics and Irvine Bay Gymnastics. Every coach is a very important part of the human-power behind the future of Disability Gymnastics in Scotland; and by helping to promote Disability Gymnastics and raising awareness, this camp could play a part in increasing nationwide participation by disabled people in gymnastics.

Dan Purvis said: “I had fantastic day with the gymnasts. It was great to see them having fun, carefree & happy, whilst demonstrating a high skill level. Gymnastics is a sport which is inclusive and can be enjoyed by everyone. It was great for me to be invited to share their day. The volunteers put in so much hard work to make the camp the best possible experience for the gymnasts; and that was great to see and be part of too!

“When I was a kid I had quite a few gymnastics role models like Alexei Nemov and Kanukai Jackson; and I remember watching the Olympics and Manchester Commonwealth Games and being so inspired to dream big. Being at the disability gymnastics training camp today, I got such a warm welcome and so many of the gymnasts told me that I inspire them. That really is a great feeling and it fills me with pride to be doing my bit to inspire others in our sport.”

A young gymnast at the camp told us: “Dan is amazing! I’ve seen him on television before, but I never thought I would ever meet him in real life. He did some really great coaching with me today and it made me so excited to show him my gymnastics skills; I even taught him a dance move! He stayed all day, talked to all of us and gave us good advice for our training. I am never going to forget today- it was brilliant!”

Patrick Bonner, Head of British Gymnastics Foundation said: “It’s not every day that you get to see your sporting hero and spend the day with them; so to see all these gymnasts enjoying an unforgettable and inspirational day with Dan, was very special indeed. The whole team at the British Gymnastics Foundation is passionate about our goal of transforming lives through gymnastics, so we were very excited to work with our ambassador Dan Purvis, and to see first-hand all the excitement and joy that an inspirational experience such as this can bring!”

Lorna Presly, organiser of the training camp, said: “The Disability Gymnastics Camp in Aberdeen gives all the gymnasts, from beginner to competitive levels, from all over, a chance to try all the gymnastics disciplines over one weekend.

“It was great to see everyone joining in together again in TeamGym, Acrobatics, Rhythmic and Artistic gymnastics, watched by the expertise of all the voluntary coaches who, this year, come from as far as Ayrshire and Glasgow, and a lot of local coaches too, who give up their time for the love of our sport.

“Thank you to the British Gymnastics Foundation, who organised for Daniel Purvis to come along as a special guest. Seeing the excitement on the faces of all the gymnasts when they saw Daniel, was so special. I met Daniel at the British championships over the past few years and have seen the way he interacts with the disability gymnasts: they obviously look up to him, and he in turn shows them the respect they deserve.

“A big thank you to Grampian Disability Sport for their support, to City of Aberdeen Gymnastics for the hire of the hall as well as to Scotmid Co-operative for sponsoring the camp this year and supplying us with t-shirts, and merchandise.”

Everyone involved in the organisation of the Camp has a huge desire to see this initiative grow in the years to come; so with the hope of continued support and funding from some great organisations and the continued support of community volunteers, we hope that this event is in the calendar to stay; bringing huge benefit to disability gymnasts all over Scotland.