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Three cheers as sisters Katie, Jess and Sophie Havill enjoy great success at The Gym Centre in Bourton-on-the-Water

All Areas > Sport > Gymnastics

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 26th September 2018, 09:20

Katie Havill, right, with twins Jess and Sophie Katie Havill, right, with twins Jess and Sophie

Three girls, one sport, three stars.

Sisters Katie, Jess and Sophie Havill have been doing gymnastics since the age of five, all with considerable success, and their mum Rachel couldn’t be more pleased.

“They’ve all been through The Gym Centre at Cotswold School in Bourton-on-the-Water,” said Rachel, who has never done gymnastics herself.

“The club were recommended to us by a friend whose son was there. They all started at the age of five and it’s been a really good place for them to learn.

“It’s an incredibly physical sport and it’s built up their physical strength and confidence as well as giving them balance and motor skills.”

Katie, at 11, is the oldest of the Havill girls while twins Jess and Sophie, who, says mum, are “very competitive”, are nine.

And while physical strength is important it’s not the only attribute required by a young gymnast, not by a long way.

“You need flexibility,” explained Rachel, “but because of the equipment that is used you have to be very focused. You have to be able to listen and to follow instructions.”

Fortunately, that was not an issue for Rachel’s daughters and it was soon obvious that they had what it takes to be entered into competitions.

Katie has taken a bit of a break from gymnastics since last year although her mum expects she will start again on a recreational basis but Jess and Sophie are still very much full on.

“Jess and Sophie are both doing very well,” said Rachel. “They are very competitive with everyone but particularly with each other. They are both competing at West Country level.”

That requires trips to Bristol, the Forest of Dean and Wiltshire and if they continue to progress as they are doing the next step is national level for the Richard Pate School pupils.

That’s not necessarily a target for Rachel and husband John, they are just glad that they’ve found something that their girls enjoy doing.

“It’s a fantastic sport,” continued Rachel, “but you have to be very committed if you want to be successful. The girls train 15-and-a-half hours every week. You have to if you want to compete at county, regional and national level because you have to learn the skills. The girls compete at regional level and it is very competitive.”

Clearly it is a sport that Katie, Jess and Sophie are very comfortable with and Rachel, who did ballet and horseriding when she was growing up, is full of praise for The Gym Centre, which is run by Martin and Kerwen Collett.

“When the girls first joined the club it was very informal and lots of fun,” explained Rachel. “They started the relationship with the girls when they were five.

“At that age they started to develop their strength by doing exercises in a fun way.

“They worked on the bar, they worked on the beam, all the time developing their confidence.”

And a lot of the girls who start at a young age continue at the club for years to come.

“They’ve still got girls who are 16, 17 or 18 who are still training, competing or coaching,” said Rachel. “The club do an awful lot for the gymnasts and the community.

“We’ve known Martin, Kerwen and their coaches for a long time and there is a high level of trust. It’s a very supportive atmosphere in terms of confidence, it’s a lovely club.

“The coaches won’t let anyone do skills if they are not ready to do them. There’s tumbling and there’s tumbling well.”

And competing at a very decent level has only heightened the girls’ development.

“They are doing a competition at least once every six weeks and they are performing some complex gymnastics in front of quite large crowds,” added Rachel.

“And that translates into other things. Because they are strong and physically fit, they are good at athletics, cross-country, swimming.”

The girls clearly have a lot of natural sporting ability, some of which they have got from mum and dad.

Dad liked his football – he played for Spartan Rangers in the Witney area – while mum took up rowing when she was at college and these days enjoys competing in triathlons.

So has Rachel ever been tempted to have a go on the bar or beam?

“No way,” she laughed.

Other Images

Katie Havill, centre, with twins Jess and Sophie

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