THE performers of the City of Edinburgh Trampoline Club may not have returned from the 2012 British Championships clutching medals. However, the club has cemented its position as one of the country’s fastest growing institutes with a host of future champions in the making.
The club which formed in late 2006, after head coach Lauren Jeffrey identified limited pathways for those enthusiastic about what has now become an Olympic sport, has seen nine representatives of the club return from competing at the national championships in Birmingham with several earning top 20 finishes within a range of categories.
“All the kids were outstanding.” Jeffrey said. “Competing on such a stage is a massive achievement in itself. There were lots of very good results but for Callum Connarty (competing at Federation International Gymnastics B Under 15 Boys) to finish sixth in his category was just fantastic. In the team events, the senior ladies and junior girls both came fourth so it was an excellent trip overall. It’s hard enough to qualify for the championships so to take that many away with us and do as well as we did is great for the club.
“The aim is to take them as far as they can go. The club has grown so fast in five years and we were really pleased this year as the best club in Scotland, which is in East Kilbride, had the same number of qualifiers at the British Championships as we did and they have girls who represent Great Britain and compete at world competitions. The fact this club in East Kilbride has been around for 40 years in comparison with our five shows the progression we are making.”
A former national champion herself, Jeffrey is buoyed by the success and commitment shown by the 100 plus members at the club. However, drawing on comparisons from her own experiences as a competitor, she remains disappointed that the sport hasn’t progressed to the extent it has achieved south of the Border, where the infrastructure marks a distinct gulf in support available.
Jeffrey admits a business proposal was in place with regards to the redevelopment of an old warehouse facility on the outskirts of the city, but unfortunately with such vast costs required to fund a project of its kind, her plan of seeing a custom-built trampoline centre had to be put on the back burner for the foreseeable future.
“We have looked into the possibility of leasing a warehouse out in Midlothian and having a proper trampoline centre built, because there isn’t one in Scotland. When we compete down south, we come up against clubs which are known as gymnastics academies and are fully kitted-out centres, where the kids go to school for half-a-day, and then go training for the other, so it’s a completely different ball game.
“We are keen to try and get a venue set up soon so we can take this forward, because we are now producing some seriously talented athletes. But without the funding or sponsors, there is no way a not-for-profit club would be able to retain such a facility. We would look to tie it in with our links with Active Schools, council and recreational programmes, so it wouldn’t be a closed door elitist club.”
Clearly a very talented individual herself, Jeffrey has made quite an impression since her decision to withdraw from competion in 2009. Her achievements within a coaching capacity have not gone unnoticed.
She added: “It got to the stage where I’d be competing against the senior girls I coach and I just didn’t think that was right, so I have taken a step back from it to let them carry on and some of them have got to a higher level than I achieved myself. I still train occasionally, but my highlights have come since I started coaching. I have been named Trampoline Coach of the Year by Scottish Gymnastics and have held that title for the past four years.”