Honiton coach James Reddy is now one of the highest ranked acrobatic gymnastics judges in the UK, after gaining top marks in his recent international ‘brevet’ exams.
James – a former international acrobatic gymnast who came fifth in his discipline at the World Championships – passed his exams with flying colours, and was the only UK judge to move up to ‘category two’ international judge in the recent exams. The qualification means that he is now eligible to judge for his country a senior World and European Championships.
James, 34, who works full time in Exeter as the marketing manager for Regen SW, the south west sustainable energy agency, said: “I’ve been involved in acrobatic gymnastics for most of my life, so watching performances with a critical eye comes quite naturally. However, the ins and outs of all the technical regulations can be a little trickier, so I had to study quite hard for that part.”
Acrobatic gymnastics is a thrilling sport, which is a cross between traditional gymnastics and circus acrobatics. ‘Bases’ often balance ‘tops’ in one handed handstands above their heads, throw them for multiple somersaults, and tumble in unison with them – all on the standard gymnastics floor.
“It’s one of the most exciting sports in the world to watch,” said James, “and the mix of acrobatic skill and choreography is breathtaking, so it takes a great deal of concentration to remove yourself from just ‘watching’ and pick out all the technical faults.”
James lives in Exeter with his girlfriend Helen Nayler, and both travel four times a week to coach the elite group at Honiton Gym Club – one of the top acrobatic gymnastics clubs in the region. They are ‘level five’ high performance coaches and also lead courses to tutor other coaches.
“My judging experience certainly helps when I’m coaching,” added James, “because I can look at moves and routines from a different perspective. It’s like having two pairs of eyes.”
In the past year Honiton Gym Club has gone from strength to strength. It has produced national and regional champions, had gymnasts performing at international competitions, seen former gymnasts win the European Championships, and seen another go on to perform in the world-renowned Cirque Du Soleil.
James hopes this success is just the beginning for Honiton Gym Club though, and, with more gymnasts taking up acrobatic gymnastics and others travelling long distances to train at the up-and-coming club, bigger successes may be in store. James said: “We’re taking our international-level gymnasts to compete in Belgium in April, and our beginner level performers are making huge strides forward that will hopefully produce more regional medals. With this success and the good news about my judging qualification, I’m very excited about what 2010 holds.”
To see some of James’s acrobatic gymnast in action go to www.honitongymclub.org and click ‘videos’.
photos Janos Schmidt