‘Little family’ aim for European glory in Denmark

Portsmouth School of Gymnastics prior to the European TeamGym Championships in Denmark
Portsmouth School of Gymnastics prior to the European TeamGym Championships in Denmark
James Leaver

James Leaver picks up medal at British Championships

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Julian Such has backed Portsmouth School of Gymnastics to ‘go out with a bang’ at the week’s European TeamGym Championships.

The Farlington-based outfit travel to Denmark tomorrow, as they bid to be crowned Europe’s best.

And their coach Such is tipping them to deliver a performance to remember in Aarhus.

It will be the seventh time the club have represented Great Britain and their home federation at the prestigious event.

But it will also be their last following a change in the rules on those competing.

The European Gymnastics Union have decided only national teams will contest future finals – a change in policy that originally rewarded winners of a country’s own national championships.

That represents a huge blow to the Portsmouth girls, who were Britain’s female representatives the last time the Euros were held in 2010.

But Such claims the rule change has made his team even more determined to succeed.

‘They want to do well for themselves and the club,’ he said.

‘But given this is the last year they will compete at the Euros as a team, they want to go out with a bang.

‘It’s a new system after this year, so this is our swansong, I suppose.

‘Two years ago we came within 0.8 points of medalling in the junior event, so it would be nice to go one better this time.’

Such admitted being named European champions was unlikely, given the strength and depth of favourites Sweden and Iceland in the three-discipline event.

A highly-respectable third-place finish is well within reach, though.

And with the team’s efforts and plans throughout 2012 centering on this week’s trip to Denmark, Such believes bronze is a realistic prize.

‘Our goal is to go there and medal,’ he said.

‘We’re unlikely to beat Sweden or Iceland.

‘We do the same twists and summersaults but they are about 0.2-0.3 points ahead of us, really.

‘I’m still very proud of all the girls, though, and fingers crossed they can do it. They are definitely capable of taking third.

‘This year we’ve concentrated on winning the British Championships and getting our skills up so we can successfully compete at the highest level.

‘We just did the British qualifiers in February and then the finals in May, so we could concentrate on achieving that.

‘They’ve done very well in their last couple of training sessions, so are peaking just at the right time.

‘It takes a lot of planning as you don’t want to peak too early.

‘But I think we’ve timed it just right in the past week.’

Such added the team’s continuity over the years will stand them in good stead in the heat of competition. The squad are almost unchanged from that which finished outside the medals as juniors in 2010.

‘It’s virtually the same team that competed in the Euros as juniors two years ago,’ he said.

‘They all know each other so well and have been together for so long now – a lot even know each other from primary school age.

‘They’ve won British Championships, competitions in America and have put in a lot of hard work together.

‘They know how each other clicks, which is a great advantage. It’s like a little family – the PSG family.’