Complete beginner who has grown his sport in Scotland
Aaron Walker, 23, joined Edinburgh University Gymnastics Club as a complete beginner in his first year at university four years ago before becoming competitions captain, a coach and eventually club president and a judge.
He’s juggled that alongside studying for his masters degree in environmental law, and that indefatigable dedication has now seen him shortlisted for the young person of the year prize at the British Gymnastics awards.
Walker has made an unprecedented impact on the club since joining, but his biggest achievement has simply been getting more people involved in the sport at all levels.
“When I was comps captain, I was driving engagement up and that is what I am most proud of,” he said. “We had an average of five to eight people competing, and that was usually with zero novices or one novice. So to go to an average of 20+ competitors with the majority of them being novices was great.
“I think it helped that I was also a novice, a lot of the previous comps captains were advanced and I think the main thing that I did was just directly speaking to gymnasts, particularly novice ones, because I think you can advertise that competition, but novices never believes that included them. So that was my thing really, to tell them and show them and it is what I am most proud of.”
Walker played a huge part in the organisation of the first University Gymnastics Clubs Competition league in Scotland, an event that Edinburgh University themselves also excelled at thanks to the work of Walker to ensure more beginners got involved.
He added: “Scotland hosted their very first UGC competition league which Edinburgh were actually physically involved in hosting, and that went really well.
“We managed to involve smaller clubs that have never been to UGC competitions before because they are too small and cannot afford going down to England. We went from 16th out of 26 universities to fourth out of 26 universities with over 20 competitors and eight novices, which is a huge improvement.”
The British Gymnastics Awards are community led and about championing those who make the sport an uplifting experience for all, with more nominations than ever before coming in this year. It is the creativity, dedication and passion from people in the sport that make gymnastics an accessible, inclusive and enjoyable sport for all.
The nominations have been judged by panels made up of British Gymnastics committee members and external panellists from across UK Sport, Gymnova, Milano, Gymaid, Youth Sport Trust, Sport England, Women in Sport, The Include Summit, Sport and Recreation Alliance, The Sport for Development Coalition and GB gymnasts.
Despite playing such a vital part in the significant increase in engagement at Edinburgh University Gymnastics Club, Walker remains humble and insists he would not have been able to excel without the support of the club.
He said: “While I’m proud of everything I’ve managed to accomplish, it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone in EUGC. The people there are what make it the amazing club it is and that has allowed me to thrive and personally grow so much. So, everything I have accomplished in the club wouldn’t have possible without EUGC and everyone involved.”
♦ The British Gymnastics Awards celebrate those at the heart of gymnastics who create an uplifting experience for all. British Gymnastics has launched a new vision for a new era of gymnastics, learn more about Leap Without Limits here - https://www.british-gymnastics.org/vision