SIX young talents from the Bradford Olympian Trampoline Club qualified to represent Yorkshire at a national event in September, with coach Lee Hebden hailing it as arguably the greatest achievement in the institution’s 38-year history.
Beatrice Teasdale, Dexter Clark-Dunn, Emma Wilkin, Evie Ingram, Izzy Chivers and Leah Hebden will all compete for the county at the Interregional Final in Sheffield in a few months.
Proud coach Hebden said: “In the context of Covid, I absolutely think this could be considered our greatest achievement.
“We were closed for 14 months and our only teaching at that time was in a park without a trampoline and even on the way back we needed funding from Sport England to help us socially distance lessons.
“Before Covid, we had six in 2018 and 2019 qualified for this domestic tournament, but we had a much larger pool to choose from (around 100 then versus 70 now) as people left us due to the pandemic.
“We also had a two-year gap in terms of recruiting talent, so for that to happen now is fantastic.”
Fifteen members of the Girlington-based club reached the regional final in Harrogate, with some not having had the chance to qualify for Sheffield.
Hebden said: “One girl finished third, so she just missed the first two that she needed to qualify, and we also had a couple of fourths.
“They went through a series of qualifying events before Sheffield, and we actually staged two of those in Bradford.
“You needed a minimum qualifying score to reach the regional finals in Harrogate and then we were competing against clubs from Yorkshire.
“They are often run like businesses, with paid staff, while we are just volunteers, giving chances to those of all abilities, rather than just focusing on the best kids.
“We want them all to have the same chance.”
As for this creme de la creme, the six national qualifiers, Hebden said: “Emma qualified for the event for the first time in 2020, but it was canceled by Covid, which was so disappointing for her. .
“For her to get up and start again is amazing, because she could have given up.
“Dexter and Evie were much younger when they qualified in 2018, but they have more experience now, and hopefully a few of the group will push to qualify for the UK Championships next year.”
Not everything is easy for the club, which is based at Bradford Girls Grammar School.
Hebden said: “We are building up our squad gradually, but we are struggling to sell the idea of volunteering to potential coaches.
“We actually fund the coaching qualifications for the kids when they are older and stop competing.
“But obviously the coaching courses were stopped for two years too, so the whole sport is rebuilding.”
Mike Abbott will be at the center of Bradford Olympian’s own rebuild.
The former national competitor established the club in 1984 and is still there as head coach.
Hebden said: “Mike is vital to the team and to the sport as a whole, as is another coach, Helen Wilkinson, who is there all the time.
“These two in particular are amazing for our kids now, and for those they coach in schools.
“Those who were here before also have a lot to thank them for, and we have for example a girl who is now in charge of physical education in a school, so she has forged a career thanks to the coaching she has got here.”
You can get involved or find out more about the club, which teaches mixed abilities to people aged five or over, via their website, https://www.bradfordolympian.co.uk.