Local gymnast Sam Clarke is celebrating a bronze medal from the TeamGym European Championships in Slovenia.
Sixteen year old Sam worked through a national team selection process since March 2015 to make the British Gymnastics junior men’s team. Over the past eighteen months he has attended training camps and selection events in London, Bracknell, Crewe and Newcastle. After securing a place in the final team line up over the Summer, Sam found a much needed sponsor in Wyatt Hughes.
1066 Gymnastics head coach Matte Hart has coached Sam since he was five years old and was in attendance in Slovenia as head coach for the GB women’s teams:
“Securing a sponsor was a key part of the process for Sam. The selected gymnasts had to fund themselves to get to the championships. Between accessing national training around the country, flights, accommodation and even purchasing the GB kit, Sam’s personal costs amounted to over £1,000. We’re incredibly grateful to Wyatt Hughes to stepping in. They removed the stress of the financial aspect for Sam and allowed him to focus solely on his training during the final months leading up to the championships.”
Once selected, Sam and his team GB team mates travelled to Slovenia alongside other teams taking part in the competition. In total, British Gymnastics sent six teams to the TeamGym European Championships, filling the junior and senior categories with men’s women’s and mixed gender teams for the first time. Sam and the junior men’s team successfully negotiated the qualification event and squeezed ahead of Norway to take third place. After a rest day the team were back in the arena again for finals to compete for the medals. Team GB took 16.683 on floor, 16.500 on tumble and 15.750 on trampet. Their total of 48.933 allowed them to stay ahead of Norway by under one point, securing them the bronze medal; Great Britain’s first ever medal at the TeamGym European Championships since the bi-annual event began 22 years ago.
“Sam’s achievement is all the impressive when reminded that he broke his femur at the 2015 TeamGym British Championships. He required reconstructive surgery and had a titanium rod inserted into his leg. He committed himself to his 14 month rehabilitation programme and has impressed me, his team mates, the other GB coaches and even himself with how well he has done. To come from his accident, surgery make selections and then be a part of GB’s first medal at these championships is just incredible!”
Sam was joined on the competition floor by his mother, 1066 Gymnastics coach and assistant manager Clare Clarke, who was selected as a GB coach. She said:
“It was such an amazing experience. It was proud moment for Team GB, a career highlight for me and very special to be able to share it with my son!”
Upon returning to his club in Brett Drive, Sam was congratulated by many members and shared videos and stories of his biggest competition experience with younger gymnasts. He even passed around his bronze medal for the next budding stars to try on. The next steps for Sam include increasing his skill difficulty level as well as taking his assistant coach qualification course in 2017.