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French Open Championships and
World Series Event
Clermont Ferrand, France
3-8th May 2006

Five members of Heathrow Aerobic Gymnastics Club together with coaches Gary and Natalia Jarvis, were part of the British Squad which travelled out to compete in France earlier this month – Gary, as Head of Delegation and coach, and Natalia, as one of Britain’s International Judges.

The team flew from Stansted to Lyon, then had a three hour coach journey to Clermont Ferrand, which is in the central southern mountainous region of France. Not that they saw much of the mountains, they were either indoors or it was pouring with rain!

Thursday brought a three hour training session for all, including an opportunity to experience the raised podium on which they’d compete. On Friday the entire squad took part in the opening ceremony. The first category to compete in the open event was the Seniors – for Chelsey Dixon this was her first major international, since moving up from Group 2 (15-17). Feeling in better form than for the club trip to Germany, Chelsey was confident about her routine. She performed a very clean routine coming 13th with 15.35 – she was then delighted to find that under international rules, she’d gained a place in the final. Her second routine wasn’t as polished - she finished 10th .

The Group 2 girls, Kirsty Banfield and Stephanie Fois also competed on Friday - theirs was a big group. Stephanie’s routine was going really well until she stumbled on her free hand vertical split, missing some choreography – this caused a 0.5 deduction. However she finished the routine scoring 14.1. Kirsty did a good routine, performing all her elements well, scoring 14.45.

Katie Cannon, one of Britain’s two senior hopes, had worked hard to increase the difficulty of her routine in preparation for the World Championships in China in June. Still nursing a sprained forearm, this was an opportunity for Katie to try out her new routine. There was controversy over one element which the judges deducted, although it seems Katie didn’t actually touch the floor, but she was pleased to finish with a score of 17.15 against some of the best in the world.

Early Sunday morning brought the Group 1 athletes to the floor. Sophie Lewis, started well, but landed awkwardly after a jump – managing to smile, she carried on. The fall cost her an element, as she then couldn’t turn properly on her foot for her full spin to vertical. Nevertheless finishing 15th out of 30 with a score of 15.70, she was pleased and justified her inclusion in the squad for this event.

The World Series finals on Sunday afternoon brought a stunning display of artistry and strength – the Chinese 6-Group of men were particularly amazing, performing high class elements, which none of the British can do yet!

On Sunday night there was a valuable meeting of senior international athletes to share thoughts about the sport’s future development and a party for all the international competitors.

Results of Heathrow competitors:
Event: Category: Score:

Katie Cannon World Series Senior 17.15
Chelsey Dixon French Open Senior 15.35
Kirsty Banfield French Open Group 2 (15-17) 14.45
Stephanie Fois French Open Group 2 (15-17) 14.10
Sophie Lewis French Open Group 1 (12-14) 15.70

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