Xcel gymnast Joe Lewis Back is ready to step up to elite level after powering to success on the national stage.
The eight-year-old produced a series of sensational results in 2014.
He’s now back in training and will be looking to take his performances to another level in the coming months.
Back’s most eye-catching result last year was all-around victory in the national-standard London Open, in Dartford.
The Xcel talent also picked up an overall silver in the Southern Region and was second overall at the prestigious Tom Wilson invitational competition in Milton Keynes.
Lee Carmichael, men’s artistic gymnastics head coach at the Horndean-based club, believes Back has all the ingredients to continue to build on those performances.
He said: ‘The plan is for Joe to follow the elite-grade path this year.
‘At the end of the year, national squad selection comes from elite grades.
‘Now he’s in age, it will be his first shot at going to the national finals at Lilleshall later this year.
‘He’s an absolute animal of a trainer. He is super competitive.
‘Joe works so hard. He’s a brilliant kid to have around.
‘He’s very, very powerful for a kid of his age. He is built like a rhino.’
Back’s fine form saw him seal overall second place at the southern regions in May. He added the gold medals on high bar and rings, as well as silvers on floor and parallel bars.
In September he was high bar champion, rings champion, and overall champion out of 51 competitors at the London Open.
Then in the Tom Wilson competition he picked up five silver medals and secured a gold on the pommel horse.
Carmichael revealed the rate of Back’s progress has surpassed what anyone could have expected.
‘The London Open was a real highlight for Joe Lewis and for the club,’ said the coach.
‘It took us by surprise. We didn’t see it coming – it is a national-standard competition.
‘The London Open was such a big deal for him and for us. He did a brilliant job.
‘Joe is so committed and so are his family.
‘He had a very, very good year. All year he competed like a star.’
Back is set to follow in the footsteps of Xcel club-mate Callum Archer, who has already made the move to elite level.
The duo are part of a strong, progressive group of talented gymnasts coming through as Xcel enjoy success across a number of different disciplines.
With Archer and Back as role models to look up to and the excellent coaching on offer at the club, 2015 promises to be another very good year for Xcel.
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