TWO gymnastics coaches are to be officially recognised for their outstanding contribution to the sport.

Both Nicola Preston and Rachael Wright, from South Durham Gymnastics Club, will become Nik Stuart Honorary Life Members - a national accolade from British Gymnastics.

The duo will receive their awards at a prestigious ceremony at Birmingham Town Hall, which celebrates individuals who have provided an outstanding service to both British Gymnastics and gymnastics at a national level for at least ten years.

The pair were competitive gymnasts until the age of 15, when they started coaching at King James Community Centre. Soon after they took over the running of the club and South Durham Gymnastics Club was formed in Spennymoor.

Since then, the women have coached gymnasts to European, World and Olympic championships, achieving British champions and Olympic medallists including Bronze Olympic medallist Amy Tinkler.

The club now has more than 1,500 members and caters for all levels and abilities.

Last year the women were recognised as master coaches and awarded outstanding coaches of the year.

In a joint statement they said: “We are very pleased and tremendously proud to receive this honour - we did not expect it at all. To be nominated for such a prestigious award feels very special.

“We have been coaching for over 30 years, and to be recognised for contributing to a sport we love is a testament to all of the gymnasts and coaches we have worked with over the years - particularly those at South Durham Gymnastics Club.”

Jane Allen, chief executive of British Gymnastics said: “People all over the country dedicate their time to ensuring gymnastics thrives and all those involved have a positive and rewarding experience. Awards given on the night span grass roots, medal success as well as individuals and organisations demonstrating leading practice when it comes to inclusivity, equality and safeguarding.

“I’m thrilled that Nicola and Rachael have been recognised for their hard work over the years. Without the contribution of members like the Nicola and Rachael, our sport wouldn’t be what it is today. It’s important we recognise the extraordinary contribution of these amazing members. They are great heroes of gymnastics."