Talented gymnasts looking for support

Farai Bright Garamukanwa and Kieran Whittle in training

Farai Bright Garamukanwa and Kieran Whittle with trainer Keri Llewellyn

First published in Sport

Two Southampton acrobatic gymnasts are facing an untimely end to their Great Britain prospects.

Kieran Whittle and Farai Bright Garamukanwa have already achieved a lot in their fledgling careers.

In their first international competition competing for Great Britain recently, the acrobatic gymnasts came back with a World Championships bronze and, to add to an impressive year so far, they were crowned British champions.

But, despite their continuing success, the duo have received not a penny from the government or any organisational body.

Ultimately that means they are funding their own careers and, as well as working full time, they also train like professional athletes.

Whittle, 20, and Bright Garamukanwa, 15, practise six days a week, four hours a day at Southampton Gymnastics Club at Redbridge Community School and after putting in a full day’s work the pair are expected to train for international tournaments.

Their ambitions are to retain their British title and push on for a gold medal at the European Championships next year, but face a financial challenge to do so.

The youngsters have issued a call for money support as they look to become the shining lights in British gymnastics.

Keri Llewellyn, technical director of Southampton Gymnastics, said: “Four years ago they were competing way below their ability levels, coming last at national competitions.

“But their talent was spotted and they’ve worked incredibly hard to achieve what they have already.

“In order to achieve Great Britain selection in 2014 they had to commit to a large financial outlay, costing many thousands of pounds from their own pockets.

“Acrobatic gymnastics does not receive any financial funding from the governing body or any other source.

“At World level, Great Britain are a powerhouse in the sport and are the second best nation in the world, yet Kieran and Farai have had to train like professional sports persons with limited external financial or practical support.

“They want to aim higher, but that means more commitment and a greater financial burden on them both. “They fear that their dreams of gold might not be realised without financial and training support that other funded athletes take for granted.”

If you can help Whittle and Bright Garamukanwa, call Keri Llewellyn on 07538 404529 or email keri_sotongym@hotmail. co.uk.

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