Birmingham will play a key role in Great Britain’s gymnastic team for the Olympic Games by providing the delivery point for the staggering 94 pieces of kit every competitor will take with them to Beijing.
The NEC is the storage depot for all British Olympic kit and, while you may be forgiven for thinking gymnasts travel light, there is far more to their kit than simply leotards and tracksuits.
Every one of the nine competitors and four reserves who make up the women’s, men’s and trampolining squads will fly out to China with a kit provided by sponsors which includes everything from GB Olympic training tops, tracksuits, vests and official team-suits to a toothbrush decorated with the Olympic logo.
But while Birmingham may be a major destination in the logistics of the gymnastic team, the region is sadly lacking a competitor.
Instead, the squad unveiled at a press conference at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole yesterday features gymnasts from as far afield as Devon, Cambridge, Liverpool and Peterborough.
The women’s squad will include World Champion gymnast Beth Tweddle along with Marissa King, Laura Jones, Rebecca Wing, Rebecca Downie and Hannah Whelan, who will be joined by travelling reserves Imogen Cairns and Kayleigh Cooke.
The men’s team features pommel horse expert Louis Smith and junior all-round champion Daniel Keatings, with Daniel Purvis as reserve.
Britain’s sole trampolinist is Claire Wright with Jaime Moore as reserve.
They will now fly out to Macau for a two-week training camp before taking part in the event of their lives. They will feature in the Olympic Games opening ceremony on August 8 before their competition gets under way two days later with the qualification rounds for the finals.
Brian Stocks, CEO of British Gymnastics, said: “British gymnastics has gone through a very long journey but hopefully we are at a stage now where success will mature in Beijing. It is wonderful that we have such a full team qualifying at such a high position and we know our men, women and our trampolinist are all poised to achieve great results this time.
“It looks like being a fantastic championships in Beijing and this looks like being the best team we have ever had in an Olympic Games.”
Adrian Stan, technical director of the GB women’s gymnastics team, said: “We have a very strong team.
“We have a very good chance of at least one or two medals and while the Romanians and the Italians must be among the favourites I feel we can give them a good run for their money.”