The young athletes at Valdez Gymnastics Club in Coleraine have a real spring in their step after yet another memorable year.
The local club, which has boasted several Northern Ireland champions down the years, was recognised for its success by being named Club of the Year in the 2013 Sports Council awards.
It was deserved recognition for the club, which caters for over 350 children in a normal week at their custom made gym at Loughanhill Industrial Estate.
“We were delighted to named Club of the Year at the Sports Council awards at the end of last year,” said proprietor Julie Vauls, who was runner-up in the Coach of the Year category.
“We are also home to the Junior Sports Woman of the Year, Rachael Murdock.
“It is nice to receive recognition like this for what we are trying to do at the club.”
The club caters for all ages and all abilities as Julie explained.
“On a weekly basis we cater for around 350 kids whose ages range from young babies right through to teens and adults,” she said.
“We have enrolments all year round and free trials before you sign up.
“We use colourful soft play equipment, age/size appropriate equipment, hand held apparatus, educational toys all on a soft carpeted sprung floor area....anyone that can crawl can do gymnastics on some sort of level. They use our soft play area and use different hand-held apparatus and educational equipment, everything is age and size appropriate.
“Valdez is fitted with top of the range gymnastics equipment including a competition sprung floor for the competitive gymnasts and also a full range of softplay.
“Our TumbleGym class for two-and-a-half to four-year-olds has proved very popular over the years and we are now having to put on extra weekly classes.
“It’s all about progression if you join Valdez you get an initial trial and book into a junior gym class, all children are coached to reach their highest attainable goal.
“So you keep moving up as you progress. We have a number of kids who have been here from when we first opened and are now training for an international invitational.
“Gymnastics can also benefit children in the other sports they play. Lots of parents would come in and say how much gymnastics has helped their children in their other sports because of all the co-ordination and core strength work we do here.
“We do all the competitions in the Northern Ireland structure. We follow two programmes - the Women’s Artistic competitions and the general gymnastic competitions.
“The Women’s Artistic competitions are progressing towards the elite levels and the general competitions open the doors for children who are capable but not necessarily reaching the Women’s Artistic level.
“We have won medals at every single level on every single piece of apparatus at all levels of the Northern Ireland gymnastic structure.
“At a stage we had seven Northern Ireland champions at the club.
“We are also currently holding auditions for the Valdez Display Team who will go on to perform at Gymfusion.”
Valdez will be hoping for more medal success this summer when they head off to an Elite competition in Malta.
“We are heading to Malta on July 11th to take part in a three-day competition at Gym Stars Gymnastics Academy,” revealed Julie.
“There is also a four-day training camp with Bulgarian national coaches.
“We are the sole representatives from Northern Ireland.
“It is Women’s Artistic gymnastics which comprises of Vault, Bars, Beam and Floor and we will be competing in different age categories at Elite level. The age ranges will be from eight-year-olds through to fifteen-year-olds.
“The girls have been training very hard for this competition. They have taken time out of their normal competitive schedule to concentrate on the Malta trip. One of our coaches used to work in the gym in Malta and that’s how the connection came about.
“It will be a fantastic experience for those who are selected to go and one which will benefit them greatly in their progression.”
Valdez Gymnastics are based at Unit 3, Coleraine Business Park, Loughanhill Industrial Estate, Coleraine You can email them at email@example.com or contact them via their Facebook page.