Notts stars stepping into the unknown on the big stage
NOTTS Gymnastics Academy head coach Claire Starkey says there is a sense of excitement and a feeling of the unknown going into this weekend's British Championships.
The event is taking place earlier than usual at a packed Liverpool Echo Arena, so the gymnasts will be on the big stage.
But new codings have been brought in at the start of a new Olympic cycle and it affects the way routines are scored by judges.
All that has to be incorporated into new routines and while Starkey feels her girls have put together difficult, high-value routines, she will not know the true value of them until the scores are given.
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Ellie Dowie was recently crowned all-round junior champion at the English Championships, while Niamh Rippin won gold on floor and was second overall in the seniors. Former Olympian Becky Downie took gold on bars.
"The British Championships are a really exciting event," said Starkey. "It is getting bigger and it is earlier this year and it is a matter of seeing where we are at.
"But we did well at the English Championships a few weeks ago and want to go well again. New codings came in at the start of the year which affects the scoring so it has been about working those into the routines and now we will see how the judges score them.
"They are all of high values, what we deem hard and difficult routines, so we will see if the judges see it that way.
"It is a big platform and it is about holding their nerve so everybody is excited."
Becky Downie, Rippin, Nicole Pavier, Kirsty Baldwin and Katy Bramley will all be representing the Academy in the seniors, with Ellie Downie in the juniors at the event which runs from Friday to Sunday.
Becky Downie goes into the competition having finished fifth in qualifying on bars at the World Cup event in France, against 12 top nations, missing out on the final by one place.
Keyworth's Sam Oldham, who won team bronze at the London Olympics, was also at the event and made the final on floor, finishing fourth.
Both will be in Liverpool but as for Downie, just back from a fractured foot, Starkey is confident her charge can do well if landing her dismount, something she has been unable to practice because of her injury.
Starkey said: "We put out Becky's new bar routine in France and she just missed out on the final with a fall on her dismount. Had she landed that, her score would have won because the bar routine value is miles ahead of the others.
"It was a mistake but that was the purpose of the event, to put it out there for the first time at a big competition.
"She had not done a major competition for a year so that was good for her and it was a warm-up to the British Championships and then the Europeans in April.
"She was a little bit disappointed but fifth in an international against the top countries was good."