Joy for gymnasts at GB selection

Alice Leaper and Isabella Lyons
Alice Leaper and Isabella Lyons
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Two rhythmic gymnasts from the Fylde coast have been selected to represent Great Britain in an international tournament in Portugal this summer.

Isabella Lyons, from Poulton, and Freckleton-based Alice Leaper will make up half of GB’s four-girl team for the competition in Portimao in May.

Their coach Ana Hanmer has also been named as the national coach for the tournament. Both girls are members of the GB Rhythmic Junior Squad.

They train six or seven days a week at Ribby Hall in Wrea Green, where they concentrate on flexibility, ballet, strength and conditioning and apparatus handling.

Steph Lyons, mother of 13-year-old Isabella, said: “Isabella started when she was eight and Alice was five.

“It’s a lot of sacrifice but they’ve both achieved a lot to get this far.

“They tried out for the GB Junior squad last year and were both successful.

“It’s highly competitive. They all have to go to selection events to try to get a ranking to compete at these high-level competitions.

“The other two in the squad are from London. It’s quite rare for girls from the north to compete because we don’t have many training facilities, so they’ve done fantastically well.”

Rhythmic gymnastics combines ballet, gymnastics, dance, and apparatus manipulation.

The girls enjoyed a successful Junior British Championships last year – Isabella won three bronze medals and finishing fourth place overall. Fourteen-year-old Alice finished third overall.

They are due to attend another selection next month as they bid to represent their country in the European Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Steph added: “Unfortunately rhythmic gymnastics receives no funding whatsoever and it falls to the parents to find the money to cover training and competition costs.

“The four-day competition in Portugal will cost in excess of £1,500 each.

“National and local training costs combine to a total of almost £3,000 each per year, with apparatus, costumes, travel expenses and competition fees on top.

“Any help towards costs would be greatly appreciated and would help the girls to realise the dreams they have worked so hard to achieve.”

lf you would like to sponsor Isabella and Alice, contact Steph on steph.lyons@live.co.uk.