ROY SHORT has spoken of his pride at seeing new British champion Sophie Goodman build on South Essex’s proud tradition of producing top female gymnasts.
Chairman Short has been affiliated with the club long enough to remember Annika Reeder (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000), Paula Thomas (Sydney 2000) and Nicola Willis (Athens 2004) emerging from the SEGC ranks to compete at the Olympics.
In recent years it has been SEGC men who have taken centre stage – most notably reigning pommel world champion and Rio Olympic medal hopeful Max Whitlock – but Short has never forgotten how it was girl power which started the club’s success story.
Goodman, 14, who started gymnastics at South Essex when she was four, was crowned national Grade 1 champion in Stoke on May 22.
And Short said: “I was delighted to see that result, for Sophie, her coach Leah – and for all those who work to make women’s gymnastics a success at our club.
“Our men now regularly shine on the international stage and we are right proud of them.
“But I remember the club’s major strength was its women in the early days, with a number progressing to top events and even the Olympics.
“I hope some of our girls coming through can build on that legacy. It will be exciting to see how they progress in the coming years.”
Goodman was top scorer on beam and also part of the victorious East team which saw off competition from 12 teams from across the country to be crowed champions.
SEGC’s Women’s Artistic Head Coach, Leah Hickton, said: “This was Sophie’s first national finals and she was one of the older gymnasts in the group so it was a great achievement for her to become British Champion. I’m so proud of her.
“She placed third in the regional qualifiers so we were just hoping to have a clean competition and get some good scores for the team.
“So for her to win the individual competition left us over the moon.”
South Essex’s Charlotte Cassidy also competed at National Grade 4 and came 14th out of 50 after top-scoring on bars, and also represented the East team.