HUNTINGDON’S Commonwealth Games gymnasts are in the best possible shape to perform on the world stage, according to their club coach.

Luke Folwell

HUNTINGDON'S Commonwealth Games gymnasts are in the best possible shape to perform on the world stage, according to their club coach.

Six of the club's gymnasts flew out to Delhi earlier this week, putting behind them more than a week of uncertainty over the participation of their nations. They were accompanied by Paul Hall, travelling to his fourth Commonwealth to oversee the England men's artistic gymnastics team.

Luke Folwell will compete for England, Alex Hedges for the Isle of Man, while Charlotte McKenna and Luke Carson represent Northern Ireland and Tori Simpson and Emma White in Scotland colours.

Ben Howells, who works with Hall in junior boys coaching at Huntingdon Gym Club, said: "The gymnasts were as fit as ready as they could be - well prepared and part of their teams, and they were all very positive before they flew out.

"The mood was extremely good, and hopes were high."

There was a late blow for the England team when Marissa King was forced to announce her withdrawal from the Games with a pectoral injury.

Two of the club's male gymnasts, Folwell and Carson, will be competing in their second Commonwealth Games, after appearing in Melbourne in 2006, while the rest will make their debuts.

"We've got high hopes for our gymnasts over there. Luke Folwell will be looking to edge towards the top 10 as an individual, and could be in contention for a team medal. We're hoping for a successful Games for all our gymnasts."

Howells added that despite the doubts over whether some countries would compete due the poor state of some of the facilities in Delhi, the gymnasts had all been of one mind.

"From their point of view, there was never any doubt - they wanted to compete.

"There was a lot of uncertainty over the decision to go, which made preparations a little difficult for them - there were some changes to training schedules, which could have unsettled them," he said.

"The Commonwealth Games are a prestigious event and something they had been looking forward to for a long time. As a multi-sport event, unlike the World or European Championships, the games are enormous.

"They are keen to get out there and put all their months and months of hard work into practice."

Beijing Olympic medallist Louis Smith and will not form part of the England team, as he has opted to compete in the World Championships in Rotterdam, two days after the Commonwealth Games finish.