Last September the geekdaughter took up Rhythmic Gymnastics. That is the branch of gymnastics which takes the form of a floor routine to music using a piece of hand-held apparatus – hoop, ball, clubs, rope or ribbon. It was an activity I suggested to her, after watching her spend hours in the garden, dancing around with her hoop. She has always loved dance, is very musical, and is also very flexible due to her hypermobility. A year or so ago she wanted to do gymnastics so I took her to our local gymnastics club, which teaches the more traditional Artistic gymnastics (beam, vault, floor etc). She loved it for a couple of months, but then decided, for a variety of reasons, that she didn’t want to go any more, and as I understood her reasons I didn’t argue.
I started looking for a Rhythmic club for her to try instead. She wasn’t immediately convinced that she wanted to do it, but I pushed a little, and she agreed to give it a go. I went in search of a club. The British Gymnastics website has a very useful search facility which allows you to find your nearest clubs. And there we hit our first challenge – the closest Rythmic gymnastics clubs to us are between 18 and 20 miles away. This was rather further than I was hoping to travel, but I thought we should still give it a try. I contacted a couple, asked about classes, times and waiting lists. One came back sounding the most positive, and so I put the geekdaughter on the waiting list.
It took a few months for a place to become available for her, but, as I mentioned before, last September the geekdaughter started. And she immediately loved it. The club are friendly and helpful, and she’s settled straight in. It’s definitely worth the 2 hour round trip to get her there and back each week. I’m so glad I discovered the Brains On podcast as we are both really enjoying listening to it during the journey.
Towards the end of last year the club approached us to ask if the geekdaughter would like to take part in a competition. She was initially hesitant, but I pointed out that one of the reasons she had left the previous gymnastics club was that she hadn’t had a goal or a clear idea of something to work towards. This would definitely be a goal, and we would treat it as an experiment to see if she enjoyed the competition experience, nothing more. We were told it was a notice competition, which means it was only open to gymnasts who hadn’t competed in a rhythmic gymnastics competition before (athough they could have years of experience competing in other gymnastic disciples). The geekdaughter would be doing a “free” routine, which the younger girls can do, and that means she would do a floor routine with no apparatus. You can listen to me talking about our preparations in this audio blog entry:
Extra practice sessions were scheduled in, and the geekdaughter continued loving every minute of it. We got a copy of her music and she practiced at home without complaining. We had no idea what to expect, but as we both have a tendency to be a little competitive I focussed on managing her expectations – whilst it was important to do her best, this was an exercise in seeing what competitions are like and whether they were fun. I talked about this in an audio blog entry:
Just over a week ago the geekdaughter and I got up hideously early to drive to Robin Park in Wigan for the competition. We had to be there at 8.45am, and wouldn’t be leaving until after 2pm when the medal ceremony would take place. The competition was held in a large sports hall which was divided into two areas – a “backstage” area where the gymnasts could hang out and warm up, and the main area with the floor carpet, judges tables and seats for the spectators. There were about 75 gymnasts competing from about 6 different rhythmic gymnastics clubs, and I enjoyed watching everything that was going on, and feeling like a complete novice myself!
On arrival I waited with the geekdaughter until the rest of her club arrived, and then got ushered out to the spectator area. She stayed with her club for warmup, and then the orientation began – this is where the gymnasts get a short period of time in small groups to go out and practice on the competition floor, to get a feel for it. Once that was over the main competition began. The geekdaughter was up quite early on, and was the first of her club to practice. She coped really well – afterwards she described herself as feeling “nervocited”, which I thought was a great word! Her performance went well – a couple of small wobbles, but she definitely did her best and I was very proud. It was hard to guage how well she did compared to the other gymnasts, because the group was made up of mixed age groups, so I didn’t know which ones were in the same category as she was. I saw her score put up on the board, a respectable 7.65, but then I saw plenty of 8s and 9s flash up as well over the course of the morning, so I was sure she wouldn’t get a medal at the end.
She was a superstar throughout the day – I saw her come out to watch the other girls from her club, and could tell they were all supporting each other with real team spirit. She popped to see me a couple of times, but mostly stayed in the backstage area. Every time I saw her she was smiling and happy, and I could tell she was having a great time.
At the end of the competition, all the gymnasts came out onto the floor, and a proper medal podium was erected. The bronze, silver and gold winners for each category were announced, one after the other (there were many different categories). The geekdaughter’s category was called, and I almost fell off my chair when she was announced as the bronze medal winner. I was most definitely not expecting that, and neither was she! Definitely the icing on the cake of a brilliant day.
You can listen to my audio blog entry about the competition below:
The geekdaughter loved her first ever rhythmic gymnastics competition, and I loved being there with her. We don’t know when or if she’ll get another opportunity to compete, but I am sure she will want to do it again if she can.