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You are in: Cambridgeshire > Sport > Features > Blogging with the champion gymnasts

Pommel training

Louis Smith training in Stuttgart

Blogging with the champion gymnasts

Gymnastics coach Paul Hall is soaking up the atmosphere at the World Championships in Stuttgart with Huntingdon's best hopes for Beijing...

Once again, a powerful team from Huntingdon Olympic Gymnastics Club is representing Team GB at a major event. Lst time we met coach, Paul Hall, he was blogging from the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. This time, he's taken four members of the club to the World Championships in Stuttgart - and so far, they're going great guns!

"I have to be a picture of calmness, but underneath my exterior there's quite a beating heart..." Paul Hall, in Stuttgart, talks to Jozef Hall on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

Saturday 8th September, evening

"BRONZE MEDAL FOR LOUIS SMITH!!!!"

He held his nerve amongst the eight best pommel workers in the world and took a well deserved third place, a major result for the Country and Huntingdon Gymnastic Club. Dan gained valuable experience in front of an appreciative audience of 15,000 and will, I'm sure, grow to be one of the best gymnasts that we have ever produced.

Taking a break in training

Taking a break in training

Louis now learns to cope with stardom and has already worn out his right hand writing autographs. The medal ceremony in the main square was watched by thousands and Louis looked every inch a champion in the making. These two gymnasts have now proved the potential for a medal in Beijing next year and will take a short rest before chasing the greatest of dreams.

Best moment was seeing Louis' head appear above the security barrier two minutes before his routine to calm his mum down as she sat fretting three rows back. Ten years work in 60 seconds and well worth the wait.

And finally, to my wife Kim- thank you for all your love and support and for keeping our children so happy while I have been doing this, the craziest of jobs, deepest love. Now off to celebrate, don't expect a blog for a while.......

Men's GB Gymnastics Team

Men's GB Gymnastics Team

Friday 7th September, 5PM

The men's all around final has just finished and Yang Wei of China successfully defended his World Title with local boy Fabian Hambuchen taking silver and Mizutori of Japan, the bronze. A full capacity crowd created a wonderful atmosphere and the stage is set for tonight's women's event where Beth Tweddle will hope to improve on her 4th place qualification.

Tomorrow is D-Day for Daniel and Louis. They trained well today and will have an early night before catching a lunchtime bus for the half hour journey to the venue. To all the guys back at the Club who were in at 6am this morning cleaning the old foam from the pit, thank you and I wish I could be there to help but you know how it is. You can keep any money that you find and don't forget to write 'property of HOGC' on each new block....

I managed to calm Marissa down enough to write a few words:

"This World Championships has been such an amazing experience for me. The whole team has stayed positive and we went out there ready to deliver the routines we have been working for over the last eight weeks. We were not expecting to make Team Finals on top of qualifying for the Olympics so achieving this was soooooo fantastic! We couldn't stop smiling for hours! Competing in Team Finals was AWESOME! Just knowing that we were the first GB gymnasts to ever experience this competition and being up against some of the world's best teams was really great. I would like to say a big thank you from me and the rest of the Team to all the National and Personal Coaches for helping us to achieve this unforgettable result and to our parents and friends for all of their wonderful support. YIPPEEEEEEEE!!"

Women's GB Gymnastics Team

Women's GB Gymnastics Team

Marissa King.

Thursday 6th September

It is Thursday and we are just off to training. Last night's event was incredibly dramatic with Russia missing a vault to score zero and uncharacteristic errors from USA and China.  America got the team and GB took 7th and I'm watching a very chilled group of girls relaxing in the lobby having finally finished an exceptionally long competition period. Louis and Dan say hi and thanks for all the messages from home. Miss you all,

Paul

Wednesday 5th September, 11.30pm

The boys trained like demons today - all very positive and dreaming about London 2012. Dan and Louis fine-tuned their pommels ready for the big day on Saturday and Marissa warmed up for the team finals - the best 8 countries on the planet.

With a capacity audience we watched as the GB team, led by Beth Tweddle, performed some excellent routines in front of an appreciative audience. Marissa stayed on beam and did an even better floor than in qualifications. Her confidence grew as the event continued and an excellent one an a half twisting Tsukahara helped the GB ladies to an historic world 7th place and 6 tickets for Beijing next year.

'I loved competing tonight and cannot wait to try for the Olympics next year' commented an ecstatic Marissa at the conclusion of the event.  America won, with China second and Romania third. 

I spent a great evening with Dan and Louis's parents celebrating their success and looking forward to Saturday's finals. Elaine is very proud and extremely excited and Rob and Katrina can't wait for the event this weekend.  It's been a superb week and the best is yet to come. 
Hope all is well in Huntingdon - Men's team finals tomorrow and yet more training for the lads. Lee Woolls says hi to his wife and he can't wait for the time where he gets home and stops sharing a hotel room with me. Ho Hum.

More tomorrow

Paul

11pm Tuesday, 4th September

JOB DONE!  GB men have leapt from 19th in Denmark last year to 15th in the World as of this evening. To the uninitiated that means we get to send 2 gymnasts to the Beijing Olympics next year and Huntingdon will be there fighting for a place.  In the final few subdivisions we overtook the Netherlands and Greece and Dan and Louis have both made finals on Pommel Horse in 3rd and 4th place respectively.  An incredible result and testament to a great team at Huntingdon. Thanks guys for making this possible.

Marissa is fast asleep and ready for her big moment in team finals tomorrow, and Dan and Louis begin another training phase before Saturday's fight with the 8 best pommel workers on the planet. The guys say hi to all back home and hope that Ahmahd is fine-tuning his hand tennis skills for next year's main event.

Paul Hall

Paul Hall

To all you gymnasts back at the Club - keep working - we need a strong team for London in 5 years time...

Paul x

Tuesday 4th September, 2007, 2pm

Hi everybody, from the World Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart.

Louis Smith, Daniel Keatings, Luke Folwell AND Marissa King all made the GB team and have made Huntingdon Gymnastics Club very proud. 

The emotional rollercoaster began on Sunday with the girls' team in the last subdivision.  With superb preparation the girls looked in line to improve on their 11th place from Denmark last year.  Marissa had the eyes of a startled fawn when she marched out onto the podium with an audience of around 6,000 cheering but quickly settled down to her job.

All steady on beam, a difficult first apparatus, the stage was set.

Marissa coped great on floor and grew in confidence with every safe tumble.  I even saw a smile of relief!  Beth Tweddle showed class with a great routine and the girls were fired up heading for vault. 

Again, everybody clean and a stuck one and a half twist for Marissa, happy to have survived her world champs baptism.  Final apparatus was bars and, with 24 nations scrutinizing the scoreboard, the atmosphere was electric. Becky Downie hit a dream routine and Tweddle showed she can defend her world title. 

Agonising seconds of waiting and the final result flashed up: GB GIRLS 6TH!!!!!  I feared for Marissa's blood pressure as the startled fawn turned into a crazed lunatic leaping around with a team that could not believe the incredible leap in progress. 

WE'RE SENDING A TEAM TO BEIJING!

The guys were keen to continue this success and marched out yesterday ready to do the job.  Vault was solid and parallel bars even better.  The Team worked according to plan right up to pommels - big pressure for Louis and Dan who both knew the magnitude of the event. 

Iceman Smith was so cool on the podium I thought about checking for a pulse - but he was ready.  A superb routine for 15.875 gave him one of his best scores in the most perfect of moments.  Dan held his nerve and hit for 15.625, currently 3rd and 4th in the world and with a real chance for the final. 

Now begins a waiting game as we watch the plot unfold.  Last night we passed Brazil and later, Puerto Rico, both ahead of us last year. 

And, joy of joys, Australia have just finished behind us too!  It's looking good and we will have the results in a few hours...

Hi to all at Huntingdon from the GB Teams -  Marissa has calmed down and is getting ready for team finals, Dan is number crunching to see if he makes the top 24, Luke is soaking up the atmosphere and I think Louis is still in bed. You'll hear from them soon.

Paul Hall

last updated: 10/09/07

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