Porter proud as SUKI starlets soar at Heathrow

Natalie Porter was named coach of the year at The News Sports Awards earlier this year
Natalie Porter was named coach of the year at The News Sports Awards earlier this year
Kelly Simm has been selected for Team England's Commonwealth Games squad

Kelly Simm relishing Commonwealth Games return

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Natalie Porter led by example to strike gold as SUKI gymnasts helped themselves to a host of medals at the Heathrow International Open.

But she insists success is only a stepping stone towards the British Championships in Reading next month.

The much-decorated aerobic gymnast and now head coach at the Gosport-based club, grabbed gold in her senior individual event at the top international level.

Having qualified in second position, Porter then followed that the following day with an improved display for a 17.3 scoreline, which claimed top spot.

But while Porter added to her long list of achievements in the sport and shone at the top end of the age group, two of her youngest charges – Milly Webb and Eleanor Moran – claimed a memorable victory with their pairs routine in the foundation category for nine-year-olds.

Porter said: ‘I was really pleased to win but it’s great to see so many other gymnasts doing so well.

‘They’ve all put in a lot of hard work and it’s great for that to be rewarded.

‘Milly and Eleanor did brilliantly.’

Aside from their gold medallists, SUKI boasted a clutch of impressive displays with a total of 17 gymnasts performing 22 routines across the weekend’s competition – and 16 of those routines earning top-10 placings.

Davante Bridges grabbed silver in the recreational male individual (10-11 years category) with a score of 10.8, narrowly defeating team-mate Greg Cooper (10.6) who took third place.

In the national level (15-17), Kay Smith also scooped a silver on an impressive final day for the club.

Hazel Camburn netted two bronze medals – one individual and one in tandem with Callie Moore – while India MacLean also earned a creditable third place.

Jessie Cerdan, Katie Holder and Lauren Healy also joined up in the trio (12-14 years) to take another bronze medal.

Porter said: ‘I was really proud of all of the gymnasts and the routines.

‘This was a run-up to the British Championships in October, so it was a good opportunity to work on the routines in competition.

‘Now all the gymnasts have done those routines, we’ve come back and evaluated them and will try to push them on to the next level.

‘Everyone is on course to do well. We’ve discussed what we can do to make some of those routines better and to push everyone on a little bit more.

‘They are all trying to get to that next stage rather than being happy to sit where they are.’

While Porter and her gymnasts hit the heights in competition, she helped match it with fundraising efforts – joining eight others to abseil down the Spinnaker Tower and raise around £2,000.

She said: ‘Nine of us did it and it was pretty nerve-wracking. Some of us were pretty scared.

‘I’ve never been up there before but it was a lot higher than I thought!

‘It was a long way down but thankfully we did it.’