It’s month to remember for our wizards of Oz

Staff and regular users of Huntingdon Olympic Gymnastics Club (HOGC) are working hard to raise the £3.5million needed to expand the facility. The new gymnasium could be open by early 2008 and will allow elite and recreational athletes to work independentl

Staff and regular users of Huntingdon Olympic Gymnastics Club (HOGC) are working hard to raise the £3.5million needed to expand the facility. The new gymnasium could be open by early 2008 and will allow elite and recreational athletes to work independently, rather than battling for space alongside each other. In the first of a new monthly column, club secretary Erica MacKenzie offers an insight into life at the gym.

NEW Year got off to a good start with all our recreational gymnasts returning after their Christmas break for another term of activities.

Our classes are now full and Adam and his team of coaches are doing a great job teaching the key skills of gymnastics to youngsters aged from five to 11.

January was a busy month for all our elite gymnasts. Louis Smith and Daniel Keatings returned from Sydney, Australia, where they made up half of a four-man Great Britain team, weighed down with medals.

Louis and Daniel produced solid performances that won the British team a bronze medal. At the all-around final the next day, Louis took the silver medal behind Japan, with China taking the bronze.

Daniel bounced back from a year of injuries to finish in fifth place, just half a point away from a bronze medal. In the apparatus finals, Louis executed a complex routine on his specialist piece, the pommel horse, which earned him gold with a winning score of 15.175.

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Behind him, Daniel scored 14.775, which was enough to secure the silver medal. Louis also produced a fine routine on the high bar and won a bronze medal. Well done to the both of them.

In the meantime, our national squad girls, Emma White and Marissa King, flew to Houston, Texas, with coach Monica Desalermos for a two-week intensive training camp. The pair trained with the GB women's squad, preparing routines for the forthcoming season.

The last week of January saw the gym become a filming studio for a gymnastics training DVD. Head coach Paul Hall and a number of our elite boys and girls spent an exhausting, but successful, three days filming the video. Thank you to all parents and toddlers for being so quiet while they waited for their classes to start.

Meanwhile, the quest to raise funds for the development goes on. We have divided our fund-raising campaign into two branches.

The first involves applying for large sums of money from organisations that have sufficient resources. These include the Lottery Fund, Sport England and the Freemen's Charity. We hope to have some very good news on this front in February.

The second branch concerns our gymnasts and their parents. February 28 is the first D-day for all our fund-raisers to pool the money they have collected across the past few months. We will then be able to award the winning yellow t-shirt to the person who has collected the most, along with other prizes.

One of our gymnasts, Richard Pembury, could not wait until the end of the month and was eager to hand in the money that he had collected for doing cartwheels. Richard raised more than £20 for the fund - well done Richard!

In the meantime, watch out for our gymnasts wearing our special "Give me £1 for HOGC and I'll do a cartwheel" T-shirts ... and please oblige.

Coming up this month

* February taster sessions will be held on February 12, 13, 15 and 16. The sessions run from 4-5.15pm at a cost of £5 per session. There are only a few places left, so call the office on 01480 52343 to book a slot.

* Parent and Toddler sessions run every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10-11am and from 1.30-2.30pm. They also run on Saturdays from 9-10am, 10-11am and 11am-noon for five and unders.

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