Nino Severino: Unsung hero coaches are key to Pipers Vale success

PUBLISHED: 12:32 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:32 22 May 2019

Pipers Vale gymnasts Ellie Cornforth, Aaliyah Manning and Grace Wardley enjoyed success at the British Championships. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Pipers Vale gymnasts Ellie Cornforth, Aaliyah Manning and Grace Wardley enjoyed success at the British Championships. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

In his latest column, Nino Severino shares another Suffolk sporting success story – this time from Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club in Ipswich.

Pipers Vale stars Aaliyah Manning, Ellie Cornforth and Grace Wardley. Picture: PAVEL KRICKAPipers Vale stars Aaliyah Manning, Ellie Cornforth and Grace Wardley. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

So I am going to practice what I preach, and do my little bit to salute the incredible young gymnasts who go about their relentless training regimes here in Ipswich, and then compete their hearts out on a British level.

During my coaching role, locally and nationally, I present on the subject of athlete development and I talk about how athletes, junior and senior, must fight with their bodies and their heads.

I cover areas such as discipline, commitment, focus, concentration, determination, relentlessness, toughness. I call these "athlete virtues", and if you have ever had the privilege of watching the young gymnasts at Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club train, you will know that all these virtues are on display at the club.

I was talking to an elite coach yesterday, during a coach development session I was leading, and he was telling me about a book he was reading, it was all about the coaches who work in the shadows and give much of their lives to support athletes on their quest to become sporting champions.

At Pipers Vale, this is exactly what is happening, with coaches such as Rebecca Hambling - in my opinion one of the brightest and most talented young gymnastics coaches in Great Britain - who quietly goes about her work of creating champions, not looking for glory, but simply getting the relentless job done, day in, day out, week in, week out, year after year.

Champions are built through building strong personalities and characters, this is achieved by successful coaches who create incredible cultures and environments, coaches who quietly present strong messaging and teachings to their young athletes.

And of course, they need incredibly high technical and tactical skills which are relevant to their particular sport.

This is what Rebecca does, with other team members at Pipers Vale, senior members such as Josie Hayes, together with the broader coaching team, they do not simply build skilful athletes, they develop young people, who have incredible personalities and characters, and high levels of mental toughness.

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I talk from experience, as I have attended the club on many occasions, watching the young gymnasts train, hour, after hour. It is jaw-dropping, the levels of drive that these young athletes possess, and this, for me, is developed through the incredible culture that is cultivated by Rebecca and Josie.

All the hard work, must lead somewhere of course, and ultimately, this is competition, this is when the pressure is really on and the young athletes must deliver, when it counts.

I am very pleased to say, that the girls at Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club, definitely know how to do this - and proved it at The British Compulsory Championships, which took place in Stoke on Trent.

The youngest gymnast able to compete are just nine-years-old and Pipers Vale's rising star, Millie Howell, took part in this event. The competition was extremely tough but Millie's final scores saw her achieve an amazing fourth place in Great Britain overall.

In the 10-year-old category, Pipers Vale was represented by Aaliyah Manning and Aniya Barrado. Both remained poised and relaxed throughout the event and showed true class to place 6th and 13th overall.

In level 2, Pipers Vale were represented by Grace Wardley and Ellie Cornforth. The girls dominated the event in 2018 so the pressure was on these young gymnasts to maintain their positions and they were determined not to disappoint.

Once the final scores had been calculated, Grace finished second in Great Britain taking the silver medal and Ellie was crowned Compulsory Level 2 British Champion!

This was an amazing achievement for the girls and Pipers Vale - they have not won this level of competition for 10 years and never in the club's history has it had first and second at this event.

I salute all at Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club, athletes and coaches alike - these talented individuals will continue to give their all in the shadows, but as seen, hard work really does pay off, and these young champions have earned their time in the glorious sunshine of success!

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