For more than 35 years Huntingdon Gymnastics Club has been providing opportunities for thousands of people to stay healthy, to enjoy sport, to meet new people and to achieve excellence. With elite athletes such as Louis Smith & Daniel Keatings, in the last ten years we have won 3 Olympic, 4 World & over 20 European Medals. We also run activities for everyone from baby sessions to adult classes, freestyle and disability groups.
Here is a look back over the years...
An increase of 50% in gymnasts in the new term thanks to the completion of the recreational gym, the 2012 Hall. Officially opened by the Right Honorable Sir John Major KGCH, on 20th February 2014. Followed by a highly successful display involving all the gymnasts at Huntingdon.
Sir John Major, with Noel Kearns, Chair of Trustees
Sir John Major opens the new gym helped by Louis Smith MBE and Dan Keatings.
A great year including Commonwealth success for Dan Keatings - achieving Gold in the Pommell, and Bronze for Louis Smith. Louis also achieved Team Gold, and Dan also achieved Team Silver and Individual silver at the event in Glasgow.
Another big year in the history of Huntingdon Gymnastics Club, as the long awaited new recreational gymnasium is finally started in April. The purpose built facility will enable the club to increase the number of gymnasts it is able to train. Refurbishment of the main building is also undertaken, and a new car park facility is started.
A huge year for the club sees the Olympic Torch come to the gym, and success at the London Olympics follows with Louis Smith winning a Silver on the Pommel Horse. He and Sam Oldham also win Bronze for Team GB in the team event. The Club is closer than ever to achieving its dream of new extension, and in December launches a campaign to raise the final £100k. The year ends in dramatic fashion with Louis Smith winning Strictly Come Dancing, and he and Head Coach Paul Hall are awarded MBEs for services to gymnastics.
Daniel Keatings made history becoming the first British gymnast to win a medal in the All-Around event at the Artistic World Championships. He won a Silver medal in front of nearly 90,000 people at the O2 in London.
A £500k grant was secured from Cambridgeshire Horizons, and together with a £10k from Waitrose, the Club moves closer to its goal of developing new world class facilities. Daniel Keatings became the Junior European all-around Champion and he and Louis Smith represented GB at the Beijing Olympics where Louis won a Bronze medal on the Pommel Horse.
The following video features the Gym in the build up to Beijing:
The Club was represented at the World Championship by both male and female gymnasts, and with over 10 members of National Squads and medals at European and Commonwealth Level, Huntingdon has made quite a name for itself. Plans were submitted for a state of the art Centre in the field adjacent to the existing building and permission to build was granted. The Club started to work towards the long-term goal of making this new facility a reality.
A difficult year for the Club with the death of the founder and driving force, Terry Sharpington, But built on such firm foundations and good practice, and under the new leadership of former national coach Paul Hall, the Club continued to expand, scaling new heights in gymnastics results at all levels. With more than 1000 people through the doors on a weekly basis, the staff and volunteer team continues to grow including 5 now full-time coaches.
The New Millennium
The Club enjoyed considerable success, providing opportunities from recreational level right up to full International standard as well as disabled classes. The Club was also recognised by the local Huntingdon Freemen’s Charity in the form of grant-aid to completely refurbish the gymnasium with new equipment. In 2000 Huntingdon gymnast Lisa Mason competes at the Sydney Olympic Games for Great Britain.
Another milestone in the Club’s history with support from Huntingdon District Council & the Foundation for Sport & Art enabling a full time boys’ coach and choreographer. The elite boys section scaled new heights and a tremendously successful section was established for gymnasts with physical and learning disabilities.
Until now the Club had operated totally on a voluntary basis but now general classes were full, with a long waiting list, and there was a group of talented gymnasts requiring dedicated coaching in order to reach their potential, Terry Sharpington therefore gave up his daytime job to work full time at the gym and Huntingdon Town Council funded an extension to the building so that more children could be accommodated. This was officially opened by The Prime Minister The Rt Hon John Major MP on the 6th December 1991.
With funds from Huntingdon Town Council and the Sports Council, a purpose-built, permanent facility was built on Council land, with the Club coaches and a band of willing parents carrying out all the interior decorating and fitting etc. Huntingdon Town Council became the owners of the building with the Club taking a thirty year lease. Participation increased enormously, with classes for children of all ages and abilities. The competitive squads progressed from County level to Regional, National and, eventually, International standard.
The Club was founded by Head Coach, Terry Sharpington more than 35 years ago, operating in a local school with 20 gymnasts and the minimum of apparatus (2 mats, a vaulting horse and a home-made spring board!) A few interested parents volunteered to help and eventually trained to become qualified coaches. From the start, the Club was totally self-financing, paying all its considerable overheads from membership fees and fund-raising efforts.