Op-Ed: British Gymnastics looks to inspire the next generation following Olympic interest

11 Aug 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

After a Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where gymnastics took many of the headlines, and after the launch of a brand new national participation programme, Rise Gymnastics - which will be available to British Gymnastics member clubs and partners from September 2021 - Gemma Barton, Head of Participation, British Gymnastics (above), says the Games must be a platform to bring more young people into the sport.

As we have all witnessed over the last few weeks, gymnastics is a sport that captures the heart of the nation. 

Data from YouGov Sport - published just before Tokyo 2020 - showed that artistic gymnastics was the third most popular Summer Olympic sport to watch in the UK. With so many GB gymnasts making their Olympic debuts this year, coupled with the level of competition on show, we are seeing the beginning of an exciting new era of talent coming through the sport. 

Gymnastics is and always will be a community sport – our member clubs and delivery partners provide essential physical and personal development for children and young people. But major competitions are always hugely important for any sport, and they don’t come any bigger than the Olympic Games. While countless young people will have been inspired by the achievements of Max Whitlock, or the feats of 16-year-olds Jessica (below) and Jennifer Gadirova, our job is to support them to achieve their goals and celebrate and reward their achievements. 

With Rise Gymnastics we’re giving our member clubs and partners the most inclusive, interactive, and rewarding programme we’ve ever had. It is a hugely innovative move and will transform the way recreational gymnastics is delivered across the UK. 

This transformation started all the way back in the development stage - just as the Olympics brings everyone together to enjoy a wonderful festival of sport, we wanted to design a participation programme in Rise Gymnastics that was entirely collaborative. So we worked closely with the gymnastics community and in conjunction with the four home nations to create a programme that prioritises the fun of the sport, providing an explorative environment where young gymnasts can express themselves to the full.

So after being inspired by what they saw on TV, we hope young people will be inspired to jump, forward roll, or cartwheel into gymnastics - so let’s champion creativity, to be yourself and give young people the opportunity to experiment and explore gymnastics in safe and positive environments.

One of the most exciting aspects to this new programme is the digital element, Rise Hub. This means coaches, teachers and gymnasts can plan and track their progress in a more accessible way. We also wanted to ensure that parents and carers were taken on that journey too – and thanks to Rise Hub, we now have the capability to provide accessible, personalised updates on their child’s achievements and development.

Every gymnast goes on their own journey when participating in the sport, and we wanted to reflect this by ensuring the programme was highly individualised, where each gymnast is able to learn and develop in their own way, with enjoyment at the heart of their experience.

After the joy of watching such a long-awaited Olympic Games, it is important that we use this as a platform to inspire participation at every level. Recreational participation is especially important as gymnastics is a foundation sport, providing a fantastic base for discovery and development in young people. It builds skills for life, supports cognitive development, increases resilience, improves strength, balance and co-ordination, and encourages teamwork and leadership.

We are extremely passionate about this innovative new approach and cannot wait to see it enjoyed widely by young gymnasts across the UK. It is our ambition that Rise Gymnastics will give every gymnast the opportunity to shine.