Posted on 31/08/2015 in


Shetland Gymnastics Club is the UK’s most Northerly club having formed in September 2005 following the successful NatWest Island Games held in the islands in 2005. Since then the club has grown to capacity of just over 100 gymnasts training up to three times a week at the local leisure centre.

The club has held a long term goal of competing at the Island Games since it was formed and it’s gymnasts have now reached the skill level required to compete.

After the Nat West Island Games held in Bermuda in 2013, it was decided not to include gymnastics in the 2015 Games to be held in Jersey so the gymnastics committee decided to hold a separate competition in Ynys Mon (Angelsey) for all the islands who normally compete gymnastics, and to also include a junior competition in preparation for Gotland 2017.

Shetland GC decided this would be a good competition to use for experience so the coaches and selected gymnasts put a two year training plan together, including several trips to Aberdeen to train on a sprung floor as the club doesn’t have one. In order to get the Aberdeen for each training session the gymnasts and coaches had to travel overnight on a ferry for 12 hours each way then head to the Aberdeen Gymnastics Centre for 3-4 hours then get back on the ferry for another 12 hour overnight journey. Some of these trips were at the beginning of the year when the weather was not very kind!

The coaches, Julie Grant, Fiona Grieve and Lynne Ritchie, also arranged for HPC coach Sandy Richardson to visit and help the girls with their training, as well as help the other gymnasts in the club. They also had a wee helping hand from Cynthia Mitchell who met everyone in Aberdeen and gave pointers with choreography confidence. Cynthia is the mum of one of the coaches involved, Lynne Ritchie.

Shetland is the first Scottish Island to enter the Island Games competition and the team were warmly welcomed into the Island Games family.

The team travelled overnight from Lerwick in Shetland to reach Aberdeen where they then drove to the City of Preston Gymnastics Club, who kindly offered them the use of their gym to train in, then onto Angelsey in Wales.

The welcoming ceremony was held on the Tuesday 21st July in the evening then training began on the Wednesday. The first day of competition was Thursday 23rd July with juniors (age 11-12yrs) and seniors (age 13+) competing a set floor routine and vault. Islands competing were Aland, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gotland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Shetland and Ynys Mon.

The gymnasts were very nervous as this was their first taste of International competition and nerves did get the better of them but they learnt a lot from watching the more experienced teams.

Friday was another training day then Saturday was a modified F.I.G competition. Our gymnasts were a bit more relaxed this time around and performed cleaner floor routines and vaults so came away feeling proud and eager to learn new skills.

It was a steep learning curve for the coaches and gymnasts, planning so many trips away to train and learning new skills and techniques.

The team would like to say a big thank you to Sandy and Cynthia for your help and to SeaFood Shetland who sponsored the team clothing as well as Northlink Ferries who sponsored the teams numerous ferry trips and the Big Lottery Fund for their generous funding.

Written by Julie Grant (Head Coach Shetland Gymnastics Club)

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