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Carl Field

Carl Field

The past two years have been tough in particular for our Welsh Acro gymnasts – but the future certainly looks bright.

Acro, of course, is very much a partnership and group work discipline but, with the various lockdowns and restrictions, including social distancing, that has needed to be adhered to, gymnasts have had to work independently and without the hands-on work that is vital to this fabulous discipline.

That, though, hasn’t stopped our gymnasts still working extremely hard with the respective clubs and coaches wherever possible and, with the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic hopefully behind us, plans are now in place that should see Welsh Acro flourish moving forward.

The rebuilding process will be overseen by newly-appointed Acro head coach Ian Said – who will be working with our existing coaches to develop a robust squad and training system for Welsh Acro gymnasts.

Ian, who is also a director at South Tyneside Gymnastics, brings with him a wealth of experience and also currently works with Scottish Gymnastics as their national technical lead and has overseen some huge improvements there in recent years.

On his plans for Welsh Acro moving forward, Ian commented: “It’ll probably be a similar role to be honest.

“I’ve been in Scotland for a good few years now, so we’ve got the systems in place; everything’s set up and it’s working really well, so I hope to be able to put the same process and systems in place with the Welsh squad.

“Covid has affected Acro across the whole of the UK, but probably more so in Wales with the differing restrictions and the lengthier restrictions that Wales had. I think, in that time, a lot of gymnasts who were ready pre-Covid – in particular Tops, they’ve grown or with not being able to train, they’ve dropped out of the sport.

“I’ve already met and had conversations with the coaches over Zoom; we’re starting that rebuilding and regrowth process off in the next few months and I’m looking forward to visiting the clubs.

“I see my role as being, I guess, a technical advisor; it’s working with the coaches to develop the gymnasts and the potential that they have within the clubs.

“So then fast forward 18 months I’d like to see everyone progressing to a point where they are starting to move from the National Development Plan into FIG work and pushing at British Championships to make finals. Nothing over-ambitious, just purely a gradual process of advising to a point where we’re seeing some good performance from the Welsh gymnasts and the clubs.”

Acro was in the spotlight last month of course with Dylan Howells, who is from Wales and trains at King Edmund in South West England, bringing home four medals, won for Great Britain, from the 2022 Acrobatic World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.

And Dylan’s success can be inspiration for our Welsh Acro gymnasts.

Ian added: “Dylan’s done fantastically well and that’s the whole point of these programmes, to make sure that any talent and potential doesn’t slip through the net.

“And if it’s nurtured, why shouldn’t they be able to achieve what Dylan has achieved?

“There’s obviously lots of different aspects to Dylan’s success; from himself, from his parents, outstanding coaching and club that he attends and all of that has come together to produce this sort of outstanding result.

“So he should be an inspiration – not only for Welsh gymnasts but British gymnasts as a whole.”

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