Coach Porter still happy to compete

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Natalie Porter insists she has no intention of retiring from competitive gymnastics just yet – despite landing herself a top coaching award.

The 21-year-old SUKI gymnast, who has picked up a string of national and international medals during her career, has turned her hand to coaching in recent times.

It’s a tough juggling act to combine coaching with competition, but Porter is not yet ready to stand down – especially after being named as first reserve for the Great Britain team for the forthcoming European Championships in Bulgaria.

After picking up two medals for her individual efforts at the recent British Championships in Reading, Porter was honoured as national coach of the year by the National Aerobic Technical Committee for her efforts in improving the SUKI gymnasts and for promoting the discipline in local schools.

Porter explained: ‘I was absolutely gobsmacked and I had a few tears as well.

‘All of the gymnasts who receive medals were there at the ceremony and they read my name out. It was really nice to get a nice reception from everyone there.

‘But giving up on competing is not in my sights at the moment. I still enjoy both competing and the coaching side of things but it’s a lot of work to fit everything in.

‘At the British Championships, I competed on the Friday. I was then coaching on the Saturday and Sunday morning and then I was competing again on the Sunday afternoon.

‘It’s helpful in a way because the other gymnasts watch me compete, and I also know how they are feeling because I’m there as well.

‘I’ve been through what they have been through and I think that helps them.’

Porter is also focusing on the next generation of competitors after taking the sport around local schools.

She said: ‘As a club, we’ve really upped our game over the past year. There is a lot of teamwork within the club and we’ve got some talented young gymnasts coming through.

‘I’ve also been going around some Gosport schools to show people what aerobic gymnastics is. That’s how we will grow the sport.’

And the hard work appears to be paying off with another host of medals for the club.

Porter led the way at the FIG international with a bronze in the senior individual event, before striking gold in the senior trio alongside Sian Hill and Bethany Martin.

But her SUKI club-mates also excelled, with Phoebe Martin landing the silver medal in the individual 10-11-year-old category.

At national level, Victoria Barrell was celebrating after claiming gold in the 12-14-year-old category, while Lauren Vince picked up bronze in the senior individual.

Porter said: ‘We had some great results and we’ll be looking to keep improving and do even better next year.’