Two young gymnasts from Crumlin-based Valleys Gymnastics Academy (VGA) have been selected for the British Foundation Squad for 2020.
Nine-year-old Halle Cegielski, who is Welsh champion for her age on Bars, as well as Range and Conditioning, was one of 20 young gymnasts selected after finishing fourth in the combined British competitions for nine-year-olds throughout 2019.
Halle, from Hengoed, is also part of the Welsh Academy and will now attend regular training sessions with coaches from the British Foundation Squad.
VGA coach Melissa Anderson said: “Halle’s performances have been very good in competition this year. She has peaked when needed for the most important competitions – at both British National Finals in which she competed.
“Halle has overcome a broken foot and a serious burn to the wrist this year – meaning her results are even more impressive.”
Coach Anderson added: “She is exceptionally hard-working and diligent – working with great technique and working very hard to overcome her weaknesses.
Meanwhile, ten-year-old Ben Scourse, from Cefn Fforest, has been named in the squad for a second year running.
Ben battled off stiff competition to qualify once more, despite suffering an asthma attack during his session.
Ben has seen his talents soar since he took up the sport five years ago.
Coach Anderson said: “Ben is a very talented gymnast that never gives up.
“The fact that he was able to retain his place in the squad was amazing. He was quite sick on the day of the qualifying, but he battled on.
“He’s got so much talent and I can see him going far.
“There hasn’t been a Welsh gymnast at an Olympics in 30 years, but it’s certainly not out of the realms of possibility.
“At VGA we run a quality club and try to give everyone the best chance of succeeding with high quality coaches. We are certainly proud of them all.”
Ben’s mother, Claire, said: “We are very proud of Ben due to his professionalism when training, he is very respectful and responsible.
“He competed at the London open taking a bronze medal before competing at the British finals last year securing a place on the British squad.
“This year he has attended training camps in Portugal through VGA and won a gold medal in Welsh grades. This led to a trial for the British squad, and he was able to gain a place for 2020.
“Ben has high aspirations and looks up to fellow gymnasts who are now getting ready for the Tokyo Olympics. Even though he is only ten, he has the Olympics in his sights.”