BOOKER Gym Club will send eight young stars to Orlando later this month to follow their American dream at the world championships.
Ciara Higley, Isabella Baillieu, Maya Zajac-Acheampong, Phoebe Cotes, Amy Longhurst, Charlie Bunt, Anna Hunter and Hana-Marie Cantrell will all compete for a world gold after earning their places at the Independent Gym Club World Championships at national qualifying last winter.
It was the first time Booker took part but, incredibly, they made the biggest impact with more of their members qualifying than any other club.
Gym manager Kate Dutnall said: “There is so much excitement here we’ve all just been carried along with it.
“It was our first time at the selection process so I wasn’t expecting so many of our girls to get through. There were clubs from all over Britain taking part but our club have the most girls going of all of them.
“It’s a marvellous achievement and a fantastic opportunity for them .”
The Independent Gym Club World Championships is targeted at gymnasts with elite ability who don’t have the time or opportunity to put in the hours required to compete at Olympic level.
Dutnall said: “British Gymnastics focuses on the elite gymnasts training 20 hours a week, but a lot of clubs can’t offer that time. We used to go to county level competitions with British Gymnastics but there is nothing really for children training about six hours a week.
“We had outgrown British Gymnastics’ competitions for this level.”
The USA IGC World Championships fills a void then.
Dutnall said: “It’s gone worldwide. There will be clubs from South Africa, Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and all over America at the World Championships – more than 1,000 competitors who will all be in the top ten per cent in their country.
“But we really know the level we’re going to be up against so I’ve got no idea if we’ll get anybody through to the finals.”
Qualifying eight members continues the rise and rise of Booker Gym Club.
They also have five tumblers through to the National Finals in July and numbers are burgeoning.
Dutnall said: “We try and give everyone an opportunity to compete if they want to.
“The club is rammed to the rafters with children and at the last competition we took 55 children. It’s going well.”
Higley, Baillieu, Zajac-Acheampong and Cotes will compete in the Copper section in America, Longhurst and Bunt will compete in the Bronze group while Hunter and Cantrell have qualified for the Bronze Diamond category.