Sport editor Jack Pethick interviews the University of Southampton’s gymnastics society president Millie Cooper, following their success at the British Veteran’s competition at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre, in Newport, Shropshire, on the 1st of November 2014
Our very own University of Southampton gymnastics society achieved some success earlier this semester at the British Veteran’s competition in Newport. The men’s captain Simon Duncan came sixth overall, with first place on Parallel Bars, and third place on Rings, helping his team to become the Artistic Team Champions. After a shaky start on Vault, women’s captain Rachel Ogilvie did a good Beam routine, nailed her Floor routine and was fantastic on Asymmetric Bars, managing to complete some challenging routines which had only been performed in practice before.
At the end of the competition, I grabbed a quick interview with President Millie Cooper:
Congratulations on your success at the British Veterans competition, how does it feel to have won the category of best Artistic team?
Thank you, we’re very proud! It was a real surprise for us as there were many clubs competing who made a formidable opposition. We tried to work out during the competition how our team was performing but there were just too many combinations for us to calculate. Luckily it was our execution that separated us from the other teams and got us the trophy.
What do you put your success down to?
Definitely the variety in our team. In order to win the competition your team needs to perform well on all 6 pieces of apparatus. Our success was largely down to the fact we had a team that could cover all pieces. Some of us are far more precision and technique based and performed well on floor and vault, where as others are far more strength and power orientated and put in some solid performances of rings and parallel bars.
How tough was the competition out there?
The competition was of a high level across all categories of competition. Many of the categories had 20+ competitors in from around 12 different clubs, so there was a wide range of competitors from all over the country.
Are you hoping that successes like this will help develop the gymnastic society here at Southampton?
It is always a good result when you perform well at an important competition and we are hoping this will spark some interest from people who haven’t even thought about trying gymnastics before but thought ‘I’ve seen that on TV and it looks pretty cool’.
Following your success do you have any eyes on some success at any upcoming competitions?
Of course we do, unfortunately gymnastics competitions are quite sparse and we only have a few a year but our next one is BUCS in February, so a solid follow up performance there is what we are aiming for. Then of course we have Varsity, which we won last year, and at the end of the year the Basingstoke Open Competition. We are also hoping to potentially do a couple of competitions between different universities.
Whenever I watch gymnastics at the Olympics etc. they all seem very intense, what’s the social side of gymnastics like, especially here at the UOS?
It is very intense at the international level competitions, but at our competitions it’s significantly more friendly and relaxed, and at training it’s a completely different scenario. We are very laid back it’s more fun than anything else; we have many socials throughout the year with our favourite being a gymnasium sleepover, where we spend the night just playing about and sleeping in the foam pits and on the trampolines. We also do pub crawls: white T-shirt, Where’s Wally, superheroes, three-legged, 90’s etc. and plenty of sprinkles trips and meals out. We like to have a few more unusual socials too – in the last couple of years we’ve been sailing, power boating, had inflatable obstacle course pool parties, and hired out Playzone!
Overall, this was a fantastic result for the gymnastics team, and one that can hopefully help spur further interest in not only their society but the sport generally. Hopefully their fantastic success can be replicated in their future competitions later this year.