TEENAGE tumbler Rachel Davies enjoyed a double success as she won two gold medals at the European Trampoline and Tumbling Championships.
Davies, who is from Langley Park and trains at Deerness Gymnastics Academy, was crowned Junior European champion in both the individual and team tumbling events, beating 28 other competitors to claim her titles.
The 15-year-old, who won a silver medal at the World Championships in 2013, competed in the team final alongside Ashleigh Long, Jenna Barrett and Eleanor Simpson, and played a crucial role as Britain took gold.
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“We qualified for the final in second position, so we knew we had a good chance of getting a medal,” said Davies. “We weren't really thinking about getting gold at first, but all of our routines went really well and we managed to hold off everybody else.”
The Framwellgate School pupil returned to the floor for the individual final, and finished 0.4pts clear of Portugal's Raquel Pinto.
The judges marked the two girls' routine exactly the same for execution, but Davies took gold because hers was the more technically difficult.
“I'd been practising that routine for about a year, and it was great that it went so well when it really mattered,” she said. “The individual final was the day after the team one, so it felt a little bit like some of the pressure was off because I'd already won a gold medal.
“It's great to have won something as big as the Europeans while I'm still a junior. I move up an age group next year, and I'll have to decide whether to stay in the last junior category or start competing as a senior. That would be a big step up, but if I do it, at least I'll be European champion.”
As if Davies didn't have enough to concentrate on as she was competing against the best tumblers in Europe, she was also trying to cram in some last-minute revision for her GSCE exams, which begin next month.
“I took most of my textbooks away with me,” she said. “To be honest, it was pretty hard to concentrate, but I had a look at them while I was on the plane. Hopefully, I haven't missed too much study time, although I'm having to drop down to three training sessions a week while I get through my exams.”
The success continues Deerness Academy's remarkable record at international level, with the last 20 years having witnessed the club claim more than 60 World and European medals in a wide range of gymnastic disciplines.
“This is fantastic news for Rachel, the club and Great Britain,” said Glen Wharton, head of tumbling at Deerness. “Although she has represented Great Britain before, there was a lot of competition across Europe in what is a growing discipline of gymnastics and she had to perform at her very best to win gold.
“I am very proud of what she has achieved and she is a very talented tumbler. Rachel is a perfectionist and always looking to improve on her performances but after the final she was definitely smiling.
“Tumbling is a relatively new discipline for our club, but we have been able to achieve a lot in short amount of time and its a real achievement for the club to continue to win medals for Great Britain at international level.”