1st Baltic Open Championships

Klaipeda, Lithuania
18th - 21st November 2005

The delegation (5 coaches/officials, 21 gymnasts and 13 parents) departed Stansted very bleary-eyed, at 6.25 a.m. A thin dusting of snow covered the ground in Latvia, as we slowly made our way by coach to Klaipeda, on the coast of Lithuania, for the inaugural Baltic Open Championship. After a very quick check in, everyone was whisked off to the venue to get a feel for the place and try out routines.

The first day of the competition dawned bright and sunny. Most of the parents ventured into the town for a bit of shopping and sightseeing, whilst the squad had time to do their hair and have an early lunch.

There were six nations taking part: Russia, Estonia, Sweden, Belarus, GB and the hosts Lithuania. Judging was on two panels so the age groups alternated, starting with the U12’s. There weren’t any official times or programmes, so it was mostly guesswork as to who was on when, and working out the scores was a challenge for our listening skills!

Jacqui Banforth from Heathrow had the dubious pleasure of being the first British and first 15-17 to perform. Kirsty Banfield was next, followed by Siana Shipley. All three performed well, but their scores seemed low, maybe the effect of going first, however they were ahead of many of the other early competitors so there was hope. In the end Siana came 7th, Jacqui 8th and Kirsty 10th. Siana would normally have been in the final but international rules are such that a maximum of two from each nation can go through to the final, so team mates Emily Gayle and Katie Fitz-Costa from Bulmershe took that honour winning gold and bronze respectively.

In the 15-17 trios. Jacqui, Kirsty and Siana thought they were competing in a qualifier and were happy with their third place entry, only to find themselves suddenly called out to receive their bronze medals (their parents had gone back to the hotel!).

After the 15-17’s, it was the turn of the 12-14’s. Rosie Webster, Sophie Lewis and Jenna Nola from Heathrow were the very last few to compete at the end of a very long day – down to one panel, they each also had to wait a long time to perform. Rosie performed well gaining one of the best execution scores putting her 12th ; Sophie (Soyey, as she was called!) came 7th , like Siana, missing out on the final due to the ‘maximum of two’ rule and Jenna, battling a rotten cold, came 17th. Chrystal Hayselden (Bulmershe) and Jo Smith (Flyin’ Scotts) went on to represent Britain in the final coming 4th and 5th respectively.

On Sunday the 12-14 trio of Stacy Chance, Crystal Hayselden and Chloe Farrance from Bulmershe performed a cracking routine and thought they’d won gold. They walked on for the medal ceremony in centre place, only to find the scores had been amended and Lithuania had won. An official apology did follow later, but it was too late, they’d been robbed.

Although there weren’t any others competing from Heathrow, we’re pleased to report that Katie Richards (Bulmershe) won gold in the senior category, a great achievement for Britain.

If there had been a team ranking, Britain would probably have earned gold. We traveled the furthest, won as many medals as the Russians,had the loudest supporters (we were asked to remove to the balcony!), the best team spirit and showed Eastern Europe that Britain is a force to be reckoned with in the future.

A great trip all round.
Well done to coaches, judges and gymnasts alike!

Results of Heathrow AGC competitors:

Name Categary Score Rk
Siana Shipley Group 2 (15-17) 15.250 7th
Jacqui Bamforth Group 2 (15-17) 15.150 8th
Kirsty Banfield Group 2 (15-17) 14.600 10th

Jacqui, Siana & Kirsty Group 2-Trio 15.100 3rd

Sophie Lewis Group 1 (12-14) 17.100 7th
Rosie Webster Group 1 (12-14) 16.750 12th
Jenna Nola Group 1 (12-14) 15.650 17th

Thanks to Ria Cousins,
who accompanied the Heathrow Aerobics Gymnastics team as coach

Report By Val Lewis for Heathrow Aerobics Gymnastics.


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