SEVEN Orbit members returned from Birmingham with their heads held high after they competed at the 2012 British National Trampoline Championships at the weekend.
More than 800 of the country’s best competitors converged on the National Indoor Arena for two days of action to determine who was the best of British, just a couple of weeks before Team GB’s sole Olympic competitor takes on the best in the world.
Kat Driscoll will fly the flag at London 2012 and there are hundreds of British youngsters attempting to emulate the success of the 26-year-old in the future, with the National Championships the place to show off their talents.
With just 35 squad members, Orbit Milton Keynes is one of the country’s smallest trampoline clubs, making it an excellent achievement just to get seven of their best members through to the finals in the first place.
In fact three other youngsters – Millie Ciciura, Tionne Cumberbatch and Dayle Walker – all came close to joining them in qualifying through a series of regional events.
And just to put that into context, the Edgeborough club from Surrey – one of the most successful in the country – boasts a membership of around 1,000, but took just 60 to the finals.
Competition was extremely tough as only the top eight from each age group and category would qualify through the first round on Saturday to challenge for a medal in the finals on the Sunday.
However, the Orbit contingent – who train mainly at Bletchley Leisure Centre – would leave with plenty to celebrate, especially the success of the club’s U19 Ladies who finished 2nd overall in the team event.
Lewis Wheeler got his campaign up and jumping at 8.20am in the U17 Boys Fig B group, and despite being in pain, completed his compulsory routine to land in 9th place.
He went into the competition with a back problem, but his next attacking voluntary routine took him through to Sunday’s final in 6th place.
Rebekah Bridge also went into the event having not enjoyed the perfect preparation after she was involved in a serious car accident recently.
Jumping in the U19 Ladies National C group, she was determined to do her best, but couldn’t quite complete either of her routines and failed to reach the final. However, she still picked up some useful points, which would later prove crucial in helping her two team-mates, to success.
Roisin O’Brien competed next, giving a fine compulsory to leave her in equal 7th place. Her voluntary was also clean, but not quite good enough for the top eight places as she finished in 11th.
Emily Young produced two inspired routines, with her voluntary scoring the highest in the group to catapult her into 1st place.
The afternoon saw Hogan Leung defending his title in the U17 Boys C, beginning with a mature compulsory routine to take 3rd place. His voluntary was also a gem, and put him on top in 1st place going into the final.
Cara Stubbs represented Orbit in the O19 Ladies C, just hitting 8th place with her very respectable compulsory. But she couldn’t quite hang on as her next effort saw her drop a place to 9th.
Martyn Howard stepped up in the O19 Men’s Fig B group, finishing 11th overall, meaning that just three Orbit youngsters progressed to their finals, Lewis, Emily and Hogan.
Lewis was the only boy to deliver a straight double back somersault in the final, but despite that he had to settle for 6th place overall.
Hogan warmed up with style, proving exactly why he went into the final on top of the pile, but disaster stuck as he fell during his routine, dropping him from 1st place down to 8th.
Emily, also beginning her final in 1st place, pulled out a great routine which scored an 8.5 from one judge, but she couldn’t stop her rival from overtaking her, leaving Emily in a very respectable 2nd place.
And more success was to follow as the hard work and determination of the three U19 Ladies – Emily, Rebekah and Roisin – saw them finish in 2nd place in the team event after all the scores had been counted.
Orbit head coach Russ Jackman, who has worked with some of those in action since they were as young as six, said he was proud of the team’s achievements in Birmingham, especially considering that they were taking on clubs with far superior resources at their disposal.
“When you finish as one of the top eight in the whole country, it’s a great reward for years of hard work,” he said. “Our seven guys and girls train for up to six hours a week – and they would probably do so for longer if they could.
“Not only do some of the top clubs in the country have lots more members, but they also benefit from funding and sponsorship, the likes of which we have never had.
“With the help of a grant from Milton Keynes Council, we bought a brand new trampoline in March that cost just over £6,000. Before that we had been using equipment that was up to 15 years old.
“That meant we would often travel to competitions and our guys would have to spend a while just getting used to a good trampoline before they could do anything else.
“We also rely heavily on the support of our coaches and parents who make it possible for us to travel all over the country to compete, so I want to thank them.”
Despite the fact that only one athlete will represent Team GB in trampolining at the Olympics, the country does have a rich history in the sport. And Russ believes that – with a few more years of blood, sweat and tears – some of his current crop have the ability to compete for a place at Rio 2016.
“They have a long way to go, but we have some 15-year-olds who look very good,” he said. “With the right support they can achieve anything. We’re still a small club, but we’re able to turn out some fantastic performers.”
Anyone interested in getting involved with Orbit can contact Russ on 01908 313048.