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Phillips shines in Poole

Twenty-two-year-old Charles Phillips, from KwaZulu-Natal, recently had the privilege of partaking in a Gymnastics Workshop for People with Disabilities as well as competing in a British Gymnastics Competition in Poole, England.

Hazel Coates, who heads up British Gymnastics GMPD (Gymnastics and Movement for People with a Disability) identified Phillips during her training visits to South Africa in February 2011. She comes to South Africa annually to provide specialised training to our trainers, who coach gymnasts with disabilities. Whilst in KZN, Hazel noticed Phillips’ potential and talent as a disabled gymnast. As a result he was invited as a special guest to take part in the workshop and competition, which was hosted by British Gymnastics. With assistance from SAGF and Trips Away, Charles was able to fly to the UK to partake in these events.

The workshop was a great opportunity for Phillips, as he was able to work with top disabled gymnasts in Britain. He was the only male with Down’s Syndrome partaking in the workshop, with other participation by gymnasts with varying disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, missing limbs, shunts and metal rods. Throughout the workshop Phillips’ abilities were stretched but he rose to the challenge and by the time the competition came he was able to compete in five out of six apparatus, where three apparatus is the norm for gymnasts with disability. His scores were Floor 9.25, Pommel 10.05, Rings 10.85, Vault 10.35 and P Bars 9.25.

Phillips is the first disabled gymnast to compete in a disabled gymnastics competition outside of SA, and is a shining example of a disabled gymnast who has bridged the gap from recreational gymnastics to competitive gymnastics. As a result, he is a great inspiration to other disabled gymnasts in South Africa to follow suit.

Hazel Coates will return to South Africa from the 17ÔÇô26 February 2012, providing further gymnastics disability training to trainers in Gauteng and Cape Town. There will be Down Syndrome World Championship in Women’s and Men’s Artistic Gymnastics to take place in Great Britain from 15-16 Sept 2012, which will utilize Special Olympic routines. With the new skills learnt and experience gained at the workshop and competition, Phillips (and other disabled gymnasts) has a new goal for 2012.


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