BOOKER Gymnastics Club has a survivor’s instinct. The club celebrated its 25th anniversary last year and to reach that milestone it has had to adapt and evolve.
Now, under head coach Kate Dutnall, the club built brick by brick by the hands of its founders are doing it again.
Dutnall has been in charge for ten years and the last few of these has been focused on introducing and enhancing an extra dimension to her club...tumbling.
She said: “We were doing competitions and the kids really enjoyed the tumbling routines, so we wanted to develop that.”
However, without a recognised tumbling coach, Dutnall had to take the long route.
She said: “I went out and got trained as a tumbling coach. It took me two years, driving to places like Basingstoke and Andover at the weekends to train with other clubs and learn from them.”
Dutnall has since progressed to level three, and the tumbling squad is progressing just as quickly.
She said: “I started with two boys and two girls. Now I’ve got eight boys and five girls competing.
“We’ve also just started a little development squad with nine five and six years olds. That’s just the boys though, I’ve also got girls coming through.”
The proof is in the pudding. At the regionals last November the club sent an 11-strong squad and each won a medal, six golds and seven silvers between them, while 14-year-old Zac Middleton is on course to make his world championships debut either this year or next.
Middleton still trains and coaches at Booker, but Dutnall spotted is talent and encouraged him to train mostly out of Basingstoke, where most of the GB squad are based.
She said: “I’m happy, once they’ve reached a point, to point them in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, all their success has been achieved without a tumbling track of their own. Instead they have been making do practicing on their normal sprung floor beneath an air mat, while renting time on Pinewood Gym Club’s tumbling track at the weekend.
Dutnall said: “We’ve managed to get golds and silvers relentlessly without having a tailored track.”
It’s just another obstacle they’re overcoming, but as always they are striving to evolve and improve their facilities; at their own gala last weekend raised £4,200 to go with the £2,000 already saved for a new £12,000 track.