By Ryan Gallacher
THE 2017 installment of GymFest has been described as one of the best ever by coaches and gymnasts, who came from across the UK to take part.
The event, held at Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth over Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 November, saw almost 1000 gymnasts from over 50 teams participate.
It was first held over 30 years ago to promote gymnastics for all and is one of the largest non-competitive gymnastics events in the UK.
This year, teams came from as far as Dublin and Teeside to take part.
Debi McPhee, coach of the Jump club in Cumbernauld, said:
“This is our third time here, we have seen it grow massively.
“We have seen changes in the venues, changes in the level of the skills. Every year the standard just gets better, it’s amazing.
“I think GymFest is very important, especially for engaging children of all ages.
“Just today actually, we had some three year-olds taking part who were the youngest at the event, as well as some 18 and 19 year-olds.”
The oldest team taking part in the event was from Irvine Bay Gymnastics Club, who performed a routine.
Part of their team, Ian Hogg, praised the event, saying:
“We love GymFest.
“We were practicing for around eight or nine weeks, which is a wee bit shorter than we would have liked. Obviously because we’re adults we have got jobs, so we meet up when we can.”
Heather McLeod added:
“It makes gymnastics fun, and without the fun element I think some kids don’t get the chance to shine.
“If it’s all competitions then some kids might get despondent, but GymFest gives them the opportunity to show what they can do.”
Also notable at the event was the variety of the performances, which crossed many different disciplines. Kiera Ingram, coach of the Dynamite Gymnastics team, said:
“Events like GymFest are so important.
“Just today we have seen TeamGym, rhythmic, acrobatic and some tumbling as well as the usual display stuff.
“So it is really good to show people the amount of disciplines available.”
Lyndsay Madden, coach of GymMad, which is based in the north of England, said the team was happy to travel to an event which offers as much as Gymfest. She said:
“We love coming here, it is a part of non-competitive sport, it is about being part of a team.
I took part in events like these myself when I was younger and I just remember them as fun activities.”
As club membership continues to increase and standards continue to rise, it is clear that gymnastics – whether competitive or non-competitive – are on the up in Scotland.