GREAT Britain are a coming force in gymnastics and by 2020 their Olympics team will be spearheaded by a handful of Wycombe stars.
That’s the view of Dan Fearn, who is the head coach at the Wycombe Gymnastics Academy and has visions of making his club a powerbase for the sport, producing international athletes one after the other.
Sounds ambitious, but there is a precedent.
Fearn, a former GB gymnast himself, said: “The club that Beth Tweddle went to is the City of Liverpool Gym Club.
“From their team of five, four girls went to the Olympics.
“It just shows what you can achieve with a decent club structure.
“You could select the team for Great Britain if you have a good structure and that’s what I’d like to have here.
“I’d like to be the best club in the whole country.”
Fearn only opened the gym at the end of last year but, with equipment from London 2012, it’s already one of the best facilities in the south of England.
He said: “We’ve got about 150 members and the numbers are growing daily. A club like this could reach 800 in two or three years.”
And while he has 17 girls aged seven to 11 and just three aged 12 or 13, he believes that drop-off will slow down now they’ve moved from part-time facilities in Chalfont.
He said: “At Chalfont a lot of them dropped out because they were bored. We used to do 20 hours a week as a club, here we can do nine or ten hours a day.
“We can do what we did at Chalfont in two days, and we’ve got seven days.”
That extra effort could begin paying off this year, with ten-year-olds Lucie Pryor and Ellie Bowe plus nine-year-old Lauren Matthew among his brightest prospects.
They are training up to 19 hours a week now and that will increase to 25 hours a week this summer as they close in on what they hope will be national selection later this year.
Fearn said: “I would say they are 100 per cent certainties if they have a decent coach centre, which they do, the parents are 100 per cent committed and the girls are 100 per cent focussed.
“And those girls are. Some gymnasts have an off day every week. These girls have an off day every two months and their improvement after watching the Olympics has been phenomenal.
“They’ve seen their idols go and win medals. They’ve seen it’s possible and they’re more focussed than ever.
“Every single kid has the same 24 hours, it’s just how you use it.”