Young gymnasts looking for Olympic stardom in 2012
PUBLISHED: 14:38 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 23 August 2010
FOUR youngsters at a gym selected as a pre-Olympic training camp for London 2012 are being tipped as future champions. Ukrainian Yuriy Zhovtyuk, 31, is the head coach of Meapa Gymnastics Club, in Cedar Avenue, Gravesend, which now has 700 members from ac
FOUR youngsters at a gym selected as a pre-Olympic training camp for London 2012 are being tipped as future champions.
Ukrainian Yuriy Zhovtyuk, 31, is the head coach of Meapa Gymnastics Club, in Cedar Avenue, Gravesend, which now has 700 members from across north Kent.
As Olympic fever grips the nation, after Beijing 2008 started on Friday, he believes his club has members as young as nine-years-old who could be going for Olympic gold in 2016.
He said: "Gymnastic is unlike other sports as it requires a huge amount of time training. We have girls in our gym that train six days a week, for nearly five hours a day.
"But that is what you need to be an Olympic competitor. You have to have good flexibility, excellent physical ability, strength mental ability and the determination. But to find gymnasts with all of these abilities is very rare.
"I believe we have four girls at the club that are showing the potential of going far, they will still be too young for 2012, but I am hopeful they could be ready for the Olympic Games in 2016.
"It will certainly help them with the arrival of world class athletes ahead of London 2012, I hope it will inspire the girls and boys at the club to work even harder.
"We also have good links with the Ukrainian team and in November they will be using the gym for training."
It was announced in March this year that the facilities at the venue met the strict criteria to appear as a training venue for athletes ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The venue will appear in the official 2012 guide which will be sent to every national Olympic committee across the globe and at the Beijing Olympics, which began with a spectacular ceremony last Friday.
Nine gymnasts are competing for Team GB in the Beijing Olympics and Mr Zhovtyuk is confident one of them can come away with a medal.
He added: "They have done well to get to the Olympic finals, and I think a lot of people are surprised at their progress, but I think we can get a medal. Beth Tweddle is one that I think will perform well and come away with a medal.