A gymnastics club from Croydon represented Great Britain on the world stage as they formed part of the largest ever team to perform at the biggest celebration of the sport on the planet.
Allstarz Gymnastics Club sent gymnasts between the ages of 10 and 17 to the World Gymnaestrada in Amsterdam.
They joined over 20,000 participants from 50 other nations to create a spectacular festival of gymnastics in the Dutch capital.
It was even more special for head coach and lead Gymnaestrada choreographer Vicky Ongley, whose 10-year-old daughter Amelie performed at the event for the first time.
She said: “There’s a huge buzz, the kids are really excited. Because it’s non-competitive it’s just fun from start to finish and there’s something really magical about that.
“It’s like nothing else you’ve ever experienced, we were in Helsinki and we met a team from Brazil and they put their stereo down and we just had a dance-off.
“My kids still talk about it today, it’s all the fun and that’s why we got into it because we knew it would be an opportunity for the children to do display and do without the fear of failure.
“If you get it wrong everyone just cheers you on and you pick yourself up and you carry on again.
“This year is the first time my daughter Amelie is performing so it’s a bit of a special one for us.”
First staged in 1953, the World Gymnaestrada is a non-competitive and inclusive event held every four years that celebrates the joy of the sport, reflecting the new vision launched earlier this year for gymnastics in the UK to deliver an uplifting experience for all.
The event is open to everybody, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, culture, or ability or disability.
The 2023 edition will see participants wow the crowds with gymnastics displays in locations across Amsterdam between 30 July – 5 August.
Lead choreographer Ongley added: “I thought I had 600 people and it turns out I’ve got 800, you plan this for people that you’ll only see once or twice so I’ve done it all on video.
“When we came together in Nottingham for the final rehearsal, in all honesty, I didn’t know if it would come together but it was so good.
“Every team has been so committed to it and it’s going to look so good in the stadium.
“It’s just about doing what you love and having the mechanism to be able to do it in front of thousands of people who are also having a cracking time.
“It keeps the older gymnasts in the sport, this shows the children that they can keep going and still do what they love and they don’t have to be a certain level. The best thing for me is the friendships you make.”
British Gymnastics will be bringing the joy and celebration of the World Gymnaestrada experience to life across its digital channels throughout the event, and you can read more about the new vision for gymnastics in the UK to deliver an uplifting experience for all at www.british-gymnastics.org/vision.