Home sweet home – at last! Suki gymnasts find permanent base – 17 years after club was formed

It has taken a long time, but a gymnastics club have finally found a place to call ‘home’.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 3:36 pm
From left - Suki members Keira, Amiee, Immie and Eleanor with medals won at the British Championships and the NAC Cup 2021 Picture: Chris Moorhouse

The Gosport-based Suki Aerobic club were founded in 2004, but have only recently moved into a unit in Wingate Road.

‘That’s always been our drive, our ambition, our goal,’ explained head coach Natalie Dickinson.

‘We knew it was going to be difficult to find a space within Gosport that had the roof height and the floor space required for our team, but we never gave up.

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The Suki gymnastics squad including Sophie Emmett, front, who recently competed for Team GB in Bulgaria Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘It’s been difficult to find the right location - we need a 12m space for a competition floor.

‘We had looked at a wide range of places.

‘Our new home will provide the children of Gosport with a space and an opportunity to make them the best versions of themselves.’

After years of searching, it was a family connection that led Dickinson to the unit at Wingate Workspace - her brother is an architect and he’d heard the space was becoming available.

Suki gymnasts Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Suki members had previously always trained at Brune Park School. ‘They’ve always been amazing,’ said Dickinson. ‘They’ve been incredibly supportive.

‘It’s been a huge leap for us in terms of buying new equipment, paying out rent and contents insurance, but it will definitely pay off in the long run.’

The financial outlay involved, bearing in mind Suki are only a grassroots sports club with around 135 members, is indeed large.

The cost of new kit and equipment is over £25,700, including seven rolls of specialist matting - each roll coming in at around £2,000.

Training session at Suki Gymnastics Club. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Rent and insurance is not far short of £38,000, while around £1,200 has gone on accessories such as fire safety equipment and signage.

Against that, though, benefits are already being seen.

There has been a ‘massive uptake’ in membership since Suki moved into their new HQ, and the Southern Regional squad will be training there next month.

In addition, the club are now able to put on designated classes for boys every Friday afternoon, though they can still attend any other classes.

Training session at Suki Gymnastics Club. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

At present, Suki have four qualified coaches - Dickinson, Su Killeen (a founding member, the club was named after the first two letters of her first and surnames), Enora Roe and Dahlia Welsh.

Another four, who have all competed for the club nationally, are currently undergoing their coaching exams - Lauren Healy, Eleanor and Freya Meachem and Tyesha Kirton.

Suki member Sophie Emmett and Dickinson travelled to Bulgaria to compete in the Plovdiv Cup.

This was Emmett’s first time representing her country and, according to her coach, ‘definitely did herself, the club and our country proud.’

She finished 28th overall with a score of 16.9, a new personal best, and only missed out on progressing in the competition by 0.55 of a point.

Emmett was also part of the Suki squad that travelled to Surrey to compete in the British Championships and NAC Cup.

Freya training at Suki Gymnastics Club. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

This was the first national competition, with an audience and judges, for around 18 months due to the pandemic.

‘The team did amazing and we were extremely proud of each and every one of them,’ enthused Dickinson.

‘They had a fair few nerves between them, but they all managed to cap these to make sure it didn't affect their competition routine.’

Results

NAC Senior Individual: Eleanor - 17.15 (silver, PB).

NAC Group 2 Individual: Freya - 16.4, 6th, PB.

NAC Group 1 Individual: Cloe - 16.75, 5th, PB; Kacey - 16.4, 10th, PB; Immie - 16.35, 11th, PB; Amiee - 15.85, 16th; Keira - 15.5, 24th, PB; Maddie - 15.45, 25th.

NAC Group 1 Trio: Amiee, Immie, Keira - 15.95 (gold, PB).

Foundation 9 Years Individual: Evie Mae - 16.00, 7th, PB.

FIG National Development Individual: Sophie - 16.35, 10th, Chloe - 15.8, 13th.

*Suki currently have spaces in their Introductory Aerobic class.

Aerobic Gymnastics is a recent addition to the stable of gymnastic disciplines, with high energy and heart-pounding routines set to ‘up-tempo’ music.

The discipline is popular with both males and females and offers opportunities for participation as individuals, mixed pairs, trios and groups. Unlike any other discipline, gymnasts wear aerobic trainers.

‘It’s the perfect sport for those who are looking for a great way to keep in shape, have a good ear for music and a willingness to take their cardio-vascular fitness to new levels,’ said Dickinson.

‘Aerobic routines are not only great fun to train and compete in but also to watch.

‘The first thing that blows away audiences watching Aerobic Gymnastics is the speed and cardio-vascular nature of the routine.

‘That’s closely followed by the synchronisation, interactions, lifts and ever-changing aerobic movement patterns of pairs, trios and groups.’

Though the competitive season has now finished, Suki gymnasts will continue to train throughout the winter months - with just two weeks off over Christmas - before competitions resume next April.

Training session at Suki Gymnastics Club. Picture: Chris Moorhouse