Kirkcaldy gymnastics club trashed by vandals scoops medals in return to competition
Members of a Kirkcaldy gymnastics club which was trashed by vandals have bounced back to scoop medals in two successful competitions – their first in 18 months.
Around 24 members of Balwearie Gymnastics Club took part in the Scottish Gymnastics Competition over two weekends – September 26 and October 2 and 3 – at Bell’s Sport Centre in Perth.
And the girls, aged ten to 13, ended up winning 26 medals in total!
The good news came after lockdown, and an appalling attack on its premises in 2018 which caused £40,000 of damage.
Two members also qualified for the Scottish team so they will now compete in the British Classic Challenge finals in Guildford. Amber Thomson qualified for the bronze level and Taylor Duncan qualified for the silver level.
Coach Lorraine Crawford said: “It was great for the girls to be able to compete again but it was different because Scottish Gymnastics restricted the number of spectators and masks had to be worn by all the coaches, but it was still good to be there, even under these circumstances, just to see the kids doing what they trained for.
"Having that goal of being able to compete in a competition is great for our members, rather than just coming and training every week.”
The club, based in Mitchelston Industrial Estate, has been open since April this year after being closed due to the second lockdown.
Its success also came after its premises were targeted in an act of vandalism in December 2018 when equipment worth £40,000 was trashed, and multiple pieces of apparatus were slashed or broken.
Lorraine, who runs the club with her sister Lynette Sharp, was devastated to discover the destruction when they returned to their gym in Kirkcaldy after the holidays in January 2019.
But since then the club has bounced back – and the majority of the equipment has been replaced thanks to the members’ fundraising and donations received.
"We were able to hold a lot of fundraising events. There were no restrictions at that point – we had a whole club show at the Rothes Halls which raised a lot of money,” she said.
The club has also faced challenges after being forced to close as a result of the pandemic.
“We did a lot online for our gymnasts during lockdown, doing online programmes to keep them motivated but we lost half of our members during the first lockdown although we did manage to build that back up again. We also lost a lot of coaches which were not as easy to replace.
"It hit our competition girls hard because before the lockdowns they were little girls and afterwards they came back as mini-adults and their body shapes had changed so they found it really difficult – pre-Covid some of them had been training for 20 hours a week.”
She added: "I am really proud of them because this was our first competition back and it wasn’t a case of trying to win a lot of medals or anything. It was just about going, having fun again and being back on the competition floor.”