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Rhythmic Gymnastics: Gibraltar's gymnasts performed passionately in Chiclana at Pabellon Deportivo Sports Hall last Saturday

Gibraltar's gymnasts performed passionately in Chiclana at Pabellon Deportivo Sports Hall last Saturday. Their performance earned them third place amongst national competitors from Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and Jerez, to name some of the few. Their trip to Chiclana began at 7am, which culminated in an exhausting yet exciting day for the girls, finally announcing them winners.

The first group to appear, Benjamin, won third place and so did the Infantil group who performed gymnastics, whilst throwing red balls in the air and catching them gracefully. The Gibraltar Rhythmic Gymnastics Association (GRGA) owned by Richard Bear has four coaches exercising thorough discipline and also where useful techniques are introduced. The school runs an excellence service for girls ranging from four to sixteen years.

An air of orderliness is immediately felt on watching the performances. On entering, girls must have their chin up, perfect posture and walk elegantly on their tip toes. Everything is balanced and in proportion as they get ready for a sport that requires proper method. Great emphasis is given on the music because it reflects the movements of gymnastics, be it graceful or energetic.

Also, if the music does not mirror the gymnast's movement, they are marked down. One of the coaches echoes this when she says: "They have to do a certain sequence and everything must be in order". Points are also deducted if apparatus, such as red balls, ropes, hoops, clubs or ribbons are not thrown in sync; or if the girls do not catch them by a slip of the hand

Before commencing the event, preliminary muscle stretching is paramount because it allows the body to get used to vigorous exercise. Moreover, gymnasts must have a strong back that will enable them to support themselves whilst performing. Sally Holmes, National Coach, stresses the importance of stretching: “Without proper stretching, gymnastics can be dangerous because the girls can hurt themselves”.

The “ooo’s” and the “ahhss” from the ladies in the audience confirmed how they admired the several shiny leotards, covered with glitzy diamantes. One of the mothers commented how she purchased an unusual leotard for her daughter from Russia: “It was a lovely outfit, adorned with Swarvoski crystals. It cost me £280”. So although this exercise requires discipline, it does not prevent the gymnasts from beautifying their faces with glitter on their eyes and twisting their hair into classy hairstyles.

The “Prima National” is one of the biggest national competitions held in Spain. To compete, the team has to be of Spanish nationality. When asked if this puts a spanner in their efforts, Sally replied: "We get invited because they like us and we are good". Actually, they were better than good, they were excellent, which explains why they end up walking away with two shiny trophies. Congratulations to the whole team!

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