It’s fitting that the first elite meet following the Olympic Games will highlight the rising talent in Great Britain, a nation that has jumped onto the scene in a major way in both men’s and women’s gymnastics over the past few years.
In Rio, the men picked up their first ever gold medals as Max Whitlock topped the podiums on floor and pommel horse while the women, who won bronze at last year’s world championships, had their best Olympic team finish ever, landing in fifth place just a couple of points shy of the podium in addition to Amy Tinkler earning bronze on floor. It was a great quad in general for this team, but as always, programs are now looking to the future, and this competition is where you’re bound to find several of Great Britain’s stars for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
One of the names you should get to know now is the Welsh gymnast Maisie Methuen. In her final year before joining the senior ranks in 2017, Methuen swept the Welsh Championships prior to winning the British junior all-around title and then helping lead her team to a silver medal at European Championships in June.
Methuen, 15, has been a hot ticket for quite some time now, demonstrating consistency and poise as early as 13, when she won the all-around title over all senior competitors at the 2014 Northern European Championships, and she was also the beam silver medalist at last summer’s European Youth Olympic Festival.
At the School Games, she’ll be joined on the Welsh team by Latalia Bevan, also 15. Bevan, who missed a good deal of this season due to injury, has been on Methuen’s heels for her whole career. In Methuen’s absence at the 2015 Northern Europeans, Bevan stepped right in to win a title of her own, ahead of 2016 Olympians Ellis O’Reilly of Ireland and Irina Sazonova of Iceland.
These two together on the Welsh team could help them to a decisive victory over the typically stronger English squad. They’re joined by Holly Jones, Zoe Simmons, and Emily Thomas, none of whom are quite as experienced as the top girls, though Simmons had a good weekend at nationals this year to place fifth all-around while capturing the gold medal on floor.
The English squad doesn’t include any of the top juniors who were featured alongside Methuen on this year’s European Championships team, but there’s plenty of talent to go around. 2016 British bronze all-around medalist Ellesse Oates will lead the young squad that also includes Amelie Morgan, Halle Hilton, Chiara Bunce, and Amelia Knight. Both Morgan and Hilton are still competing at the espoir level, expected to compete at the junior ranks in 2017.
Finally, Scotland’s team includes 2016 Scottish junior all-around champion Ellie Russell alongside Sarah McKenzie, who placed 11th all-around at British Championships, Megan Morrison, and espoir gymnasts Anna Hollins and Kacey Morrison, both of whom train at Largs and helped Scotland win the Celtic Cup in this year’s under 13 competition.
On the men’s side, Pavel Karnejenko and Kelvin Cham, both instrumental in Scotland’s silver medal finish last year, will return to help their team fight for gold this time around. Both Karnejenko and Cham are also favorites for all-around golds, with Cham this year’s Scottish all-around, floor, pommel horse, rings, parallel bars, and high bar champion.
A full list of competitors is below. For more information, check out our coverage guide.
| Kevin Cham
Article by Lauren Hopkins