Olympic Champions and Team GB 2012 Ambassadors Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean provided a significant boost to Great Britain’s rhythmic gymnasts when they spent a day with the team at their University of Bath training centre on Saturday 3rd December.
The ice dance stars, who famously won gold at the Sarajevo 1984 Olympic Winter Games inspired the rhythmic gymnasts by providing them with artistic guidance and tips on how to maximise their performance for the audience and the judges as they continued to prepare their routines for the London 2012 test event, which takes place in London in January.
Torvill and Dean were unveiled in March by the British Olympic Association (BOA) as part of a 27 strong group of Britain’s most inspirational and accomplished Olympians to act as Team GB 2012 Ambassadors. Their appearance with rhythmic gymnastics forms part of a key initiative to bring together some of Britain’s most experienced and successful Olympians with athletes and sports preparing themselves to represent Team GB in the London 2012 Olympics.
The visit to rhythmic gymnastics follows a meeting between fellow ice dance Olympic Champion Robin Cousins and the GB synchronised swimming squad in Aldershot earlier this year. The BOA is continuing to work together with the Team GB 2012 Ambassadors and the National Governing Bodies of OIympic sports to schedule further partnerships in 2012.
Torvill and Dean’s “Bolero” routine at the Sarajevo Games of 1984 attracted 12 perfect 6.0 scores from the judges and was watched by a then record UK TV audience of more than 24 million. The duo passed on that experience to the young gymnasts and were clearly impressed by some of the routines they saw.
Christopher Dean said:
“I have always been fascinated by rhythmic gymnastics. To me it is working with props, so seeing the girls today go through the routines, it is amazing to watch.
“If we can add anything it is to the performance quality and musicality in what they are doing. What I have been trying to get over to them is what the audience feels. If you win the audience then hopefully you can win the judges over. There is a sense of warming to something that you are going to watch, feeling confident”.
Jayne Torvill immediately saw the similarities between ice-skating and this strand of gymnastics:
“I have seen rhythmic gymnastics on the television a couple of times, but not often enough as is the case with most of sports. It is fascinating because there is definitely a cross over with skating, it is balletic and athletic, and you are doing routines to music.
“At this point the girls already had their routine choreographed and there were certain elements that Chris and I are just beginning to understand, some of the technical things that they need to include, what they get their points and scores for. I think that what we can see is that their visual is a big part of their performance and their focus as well.”
Sarah Moon, coach of the rhythmic gymnastics team said:
“Today has been absolutely fantastic; it has been a real boost to the team to have Team GB Ambassadors and Olympic Champions Jayne and Chris here mentoring today. It has been an absolute treat. They are truly inspirational British role models”.
Rhythmic gymnast Jade Faulkner (Esprit RGC, South West England) said:
“Having Jayne and Chris here today has been really good. They have been helping with the performance element of our routines - looking at the little things, like how to walk onto the floor, because that it how the judges and audience are going to see the routine for the first time. So hopefully this will really help with the overall impression of our routine.
Rhythmic gymnast Rachel Smith (City of Coventry) added:
“It has been really good fun. They (Jayne and Chris) have given us some ideas that we can really utilize in our routines, and hopefully we can put them into practice soon.
“I was really nervous to meet Jayne and Chris, I didn’t expect to be, but I was. Our sports have similarities and knowing that they have been through what we are now, they are really inspirational role models. They have history, and we want to make history as a team as well”.
Rhythmic gymnast Lynne Hutchison (City of Bath) said:
“It was a really great experience; especially because they [Torvill and Dean] have things in common with our sport and hopefully that will give us a boost when we train and perform our routines.”
The seven-strong training group are aiming to become the first British team to compete in the group competition at an Olympic Games. Their next challenge is at the London Prepares Series test event at the North Greenwich Arena from 16 to 18 January, when they will compete alongside world champions Italy as well as the teams finishing in seventh to 12th places at September’s World Championships – Ukraine, Switzerland, France, Israel, Greece and Spain – who are also bidding to qualify for 2012.
The group had to achieve a score of 41.2 to qualify for the test event and they did it in style at the National Group Championships scoring 43.4. The group features seven athletes - Annie Bartlett, Francesca Fox, Georgina Cassar, Jade Faulkner, Louisa Pouli, Lynne Hutchison and Rachel Smith.
They have been coached by Sarah Moon since January and they made the decision to come together to train full-time in Bath from July to give them the very best chance of achieving the standard they need to earn selection to Team GB for London 2012.
Sarah said: “I’m really proud of the squad. They’ve made a big commitment and what they’ve achieved to get this far is fantastic. We’re really looking forward to the test event in January, it will be an amazing experience.”
They return to action at an international competition in Zaragoza in Spain from 9 to 11 December when they will face many of the teams that will compete in the test event.