Gymnastics coach Paul Hall has been exploring Tokyo ahead of a important competition for the Huntingdon gymnasts and Team GB.
KONICHI WA from sunny Tokyo!
I’m sitting in the sky restaurant on the 45th floor of the Keio Plaza Hotel, overlooking the amazing sprawl of skyscrapers and densely packed buildings that stretch for as far as the eye can see. After four days of training the GB team is champing at the bit and eager to begin their Olympic qualification campaign. Louis is singing (always a good sign) and Dan is hitting the space invaders or whatever it is they do on their phones nowadays. The mood in the camp is positive and all the guys seem fit and healthy. We’re training with the Americans, Spanish, and Portuguese, and it’s a great opportunity to meet up with old friends in the small world of gymnastics.
Today I visited the Meiji shrine in Yoyogi Park, an incredible oasis of calm in the centre of this bustling city. A lush, verdant forest houses an ornate wooden temple with a Taiko drum that stands over three metres high, booming out an earthy thud that resonates throughout the park like the cities very own heartbeat. Today the sunshine pierced the tree canopy, illuminating giant cobwebs over two metres in diameter, housing spiders that made our own look positively tiny. Many people at the temple were offering up prayers to the earthquake victims from earlier this year, and all around, in the gym, the hotels, the shops, the respectful bowing and polite smiles that greet every visitor add to the poignancy of a city shouldering its loss and carrying on with dignity.
The men’s qualification event is on October 9, with team finals on October 12, and individual events at the end of the week.
The target is for the team to finish in the top eight and so qualify five places for London 2012.
Beth Tweddle heads up a strong girls’ squad that hopes to do similar.
The waiting is hard, the guys are prepared, watch this space......
Huntingdon Gymnastics Club.