here was a glimpse of the future of Team Scotland for spectators at the Scottish National Artistic Gymnastics Championships at Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth, as more than 100 gymnasts competed in front of a sell-out crowd at the two-day Team Scotland Series event.
Two new champions were crowned as Kelvin Cham and Shannon Archer won the Scottish national artistic men’s and women’s all-around senior titles. Both have their sights set firmly on representing Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast next year.
For 18 year-old Cham, it was a case of starting his first senior season in the same way he finished his junior years, having won the age-group title 12 months ago. He finished marginally ahead of his City of Glasgow team mate David Weir to take the title, while Frank Baines, an integral part of Scotland’s historic first gymnastics team medal at Glasgow 2014, took the bronze.
With the defending and three-time champion Dan Purvis out of contention for the all-around title, as he was only competing over three apparatus – pommel horse, parallel bars, and floor – Cham took advantage of the chance to shine.
“It feels really good to be Scottish champion,” he said. “Some pieces went really well and on others there were a few mistakes that I can fix. I was nervous but I felt good and I’m so happy with the result.
“It would be a dream to be on Team Scotland for Gold Coast 2018, it’s what I’ve been training for over the past few years. It’s so good to compete alongside the guys who competed at Glasgow 2014, they are such good gymnasts and you can learn from them.”
Like-wise in the women’s championship, defending champion Cara Kennedy was only contesting the asymmetric bars on her way back from injury. Archer was third last year and was delighted with gold ahead of Sofia Ramzan from Dundee 2K and her City of Glasgow team mate, Carly Smith.
Archer took full advantage of her first opportunity to post a Gold Coast 2018 Games qualifying standard with her total of 49.084 over the required mark. Delighted with such a promising start as she aims for a place on Team Scotland she said: “I am very happy with how it went. I’ve never won the all-around title before so it was a personal goal.
“It would be an honour to be on the team in Gold Coast. I missed out on the last Games with an elbow injury so to make it to these Games would mean a lot to me. Since the last Games, it has all been about working on the upgrades to get to the level you need. I’ve still got a few upgrades I can add into my routines but it’s looking good so far.”
The victories for Archer and Cham were a double celebration for the City of Glasgow Gymnastics Club, who enjoyed a hugely successful weekend. Pavel Karnejenko won the junior men’s and Crystelle Lake won the espoir all-around titles while their women’s team picked up gold, and several of the club’s gymnasts won apparatus finals at different age levels on Sunday. The second day of competition also saw 21 year-old Ramsay Meiklem and 16 year-old Sophie Crawford earn the men’s and women’s disabled titles.
The Scottish National Table Tennis Championships, also part of the Team Scotland Series, taking place at the same venue embodied a key aim of the Series in bringing Commonwealth Games sports together outside Games time. Having experienced Team Scotland’s ‘17 sports – One Team’ ethos at Glasgow 2014, Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games medallist Dan Purvis was full of praise for the initiative.
“At the Commonwealth Games it was fantastic that the whole team were together,” he said. “Seeing people from other sports working just as hard as we are and getting good results as well it’s such a great vibe, so to support each other outside the Games and then hopefully see each other in Australia is amazing and it’s just a great experience overall.”
The next event in the Team Scotland Series will be the Boxing Scotland Elite Finals on April 1 at Ravenscraig.