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An unfair challenge?

GymBeamRisky

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Whilst I feel that the Challenge cup entry qualifying scores are broadly fair the same cannot be said for the qualifying scores for entry into the British particularly at the Junior and Senior levels. When only 12 Junior and 9 Seniors attained in excess of these scores at the 2019 British how can it possibly be fair? Surely a mean average score of recent years at the British could be used as a fairer and more reflective recognition of the attainment of the girls who have spent dedicated years of their life on the national path?

Maybe just maybe a Junior who scored say 47.5 at the challenge could have had a bad day and normally be capable of 49 plus putting them in the top 10 in Great Britain? Same applies to other age groups.A score of 45 point something at the Junior this year and you could of placed as high as 22nd and at Senior as high as 16th.And then there are the individual apparatus where one of these girls who excels in a particular field or maybe two will be denied the opportunity to be placed amongst the top in Britain.

I see that no Juniors or Seniors met the qualifying score last year and only one of the six espoir that attained over 46 went on to compete at the British. Barring injuries why would that be, is it more likely to be the individual or the clubs decision?

Why should girls who meet a “mean average” be denied the right to one day say to their grand children , “ once upon a time your Gran finished 20th AA in whole of Great Britain and even won a Gold medal on the individual beam!” Basically it is British Gymnastics way of saying, “ if you do not attain a top 10 British finishing score at the Challenge we really aren’t interested in you”. .....well it might as well be.

The system needs to change , it needs to be more realistic,more reflective of girls achievements and fairer. Above all it needs to allow gymnasts to reach their full potential results wise.Only a select few will make the British squad but that does not mean we should deny other gymnasts the rights to be the best they can be !

Ok rant over :) Any thoughts?
 

Jenny

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Whilst I feel that the Challenge cup entry qualifying scores are broadly fair the same cannot be said for the qualifying scores for entry into the British particularly at the Junior and Senior levels. When only 12 Junior and 9 Seniors attained in excess of these scores at the 2019 British how can it possibly be fair? Surely a mean average score of recent years at the British could be used as a fairer and more reflective recognition of the attainment of the girls who have spent dedicated years of their life on the national path?

Maybe just maybe a Junior who scored say 47.5 at the challenge could have had a bad day and normally be capable of 49 plus putting them in the top 10 in Great Britain? Same applies to other age groups.A score of 45 point something at the Junior this year and you could of placed as high as 22nd and at Senior as high as 16th.And then there are the individual apparatus where one of these girls who excels in a particular field or maybe two will be denied the opportunity to be placed amongst the top in Britain.

I see that no Juniors or Seniors met the qualifying score last year and only one of the six espoir that attained over 46 went on to compete at the British. Barring injuries why would that be, is it more likely to be the individual or the clubs decision?

Why should girls who meet a “mean average” be denied the right to one day say to their grand children , “ once upon a time your Gran finished 20th AA in whole of Great Britain and even won a Gold medal on the individual beam!” Basically it is British Gymnastics way of saying, “ if you do not attain a top 10 British finishing score at the Challenge we really aren’t interested in you”. .....well it might as well be.

The system needs to change , it needs to be more realistic,more reflective of girls achievements and fairer. Above all it needs to allow gymnasts to reach their full potential results wise.Only a select few will make the British squad but that does not mean we should deny other gymnasts the rights to be the best they can be !

Ok rant over :) Any thoughts?
1. You don't have to score out of Challenge to get to the British, you can do compulsories instead. Compulsory Grade 1 is a good basic level of routine suitable for the British. You can do this in a year- compulsory 3 in region in March, compulsory 2 in October retake, compulsory 1 in Feb. British in following March. It is great that there is a choice of route in.

2. Maybe all the girls at the British normally score 49 but just had a bad day? Bad days aren't the exclusive of challenge cup. So not sure how it is relevant. Remember girls in the British have had to hit 3 high qualifying scores already in compulsory or one extra high one in Challenge. And remember competing on podium in the huge arena at the British is a whole different kettle of fish to any other national competition.

3. No one is denying anyone the right to do anything. There are 2 ways to qualify. Choose one and go and do it! How it that unfair? The system is generally fine.

I don't understand your last paragraph. "it needs to allow gymnasts to reach their full potential results wise". How is it not? If you have the results you are already at the British aren't you?
"that does not mean we should deny other gymnasts the rights to be the best they can be !" How are their rights to be the best that they can be being denied. Being the best that you can be does not depend on the competition you are in.

It is wonderful to see more girls at the British . Hopefully more will follow through either route.
 

minnie97

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1. You don't have to score out of Challenge to get to the British, you can do compulsories instead. Compulsory Grade 1 is a good basic level of routine suitable for the British. You can do this in a year- compulsory 3 in region in March, compulsory 2 in October retake, compulsory 1 in Feb. British in following March. It is great that there is a choice of route in.

2. Maybe all the girls at the British normally score 49 but just had a bad day? Bad days aren't the exclusive of challenge cup. So not sure how it is relevant. Remember girls in the British have had to hit 3 high qualifying scores already in compulsory or one extra high one in Challenge. And remember competing on podium in the huge arena at the British is a whole different kettle of fish to any other national competition.

3. No one is denying anyone the right to do anything. There are 2 ways to qualify. Choose one and go and do it! How it that unfair? The system is generally fine.

I don't understand your last paragraph. "it needs to allow gymnasts to reach their full potential results wise". How is it not? If you have the results you are already at the British aren't you?
"that does not mean we should deny other gymnasts the rights to be the best they can be !" How are their rights to be the best that they can be being denied. Being the best that you can be does not depend on the competition you are in.

It is wonderful to see more girls at the British . Hopefully more will follow through either route.
Marvellous. The usual 'shut up and stop moaning' shutdown when anyone makes a criticism of the Challenge Cup setup. No wonder no-one comments much on this forum.
 

Jimjac

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Marvellous. The usual 'shut up and stop moaning' shutdown when anyone makes a criticism of the Challenge Cup setup. No wonder no-one comments much on this forum
I think the reply from Jenny was pointing out that there are different routes to qualify.I am no fan of BG but I feel the introduction of the out of age compulsory a few years ago and the more recent change of allowing more than 1 compulsory to be taken in 1 year allows a real choice and does not deny the gymnast to be the best they can be and makes the system fairer. You could potentially argue that there is no need for Challenge at all with the out of age route. Challenge cup scores are high but I think this to discourage this route as the compulsory route is based on establishing a good foundation and implementing some rigor to the progression of skills. If Challenge cup was easier than many clubs would just ignore the compulsory route altogether thereby losing the rigor that is required to achieve at the top. Granted this level is only achieved by a few but potentially would be achieved by even fewer if the compulsory route did not exist. It is very difficult to a put a system in place which everyone sees as fair.

There is no qualifying score for the English/Welsh/Scottish all which you can enter as a guest if you don't meet the nationality requirements and therefore can compete against all of Great Britain (I know it is not quite the same but it still a great achievement being able to compete at that level).
 

Learning Parent GB

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It's an interesting one. Is the 'out of age' route for compulsories really available for anyone out of age, or just for those one year out of age? (In reality, not just in theory). And am I right in thinking that there is an option to retake a compulsory grade in the same year too? There isn't that option for gymnasts doing the challenge cup.

I'm a bit on the fence. I like the theory as Jenny sells it, but I think that is only works out for the girls at top clubs and who are aiming for the absolute top of the field. I can empathise with the frustrations of a gymnast who has worked hard and come through at an older age leaving them with what seems like an impossible route through the Challenge Cup. I think there must be a case that some of the top end challenge girls are better than some of the bottom end British girls. But I also see the careful and thorough groundings in skills going through the compulsory route.

Am I right in thinking there has been a thorough review of the system again this year? I had heard rumours of them slightly lowering the qualifying scores from the Challenge to the British, which they haven't, so the 'people in the know' must be happy that the system is right.
 
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Faith

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I'm a bit on the fence. I like the theory as Jenny sells it, but I think that is only works out for the girls at top clubs and who are aiming for the absolute top of the field. I can empathise with the frustrations of a gymnast who has worked hard and come through at an older age leaving them with what seems like an impossible route through the Challenge Cup. I think there must be a case that some of the top end challenge girls are better than some of the bottom end British girls. But I also see the careful and thorough groundings in skills going through the compulsory route.

Me too.

The issue I have with the compulsory route is if you’re not in a top club by age 6 or 7, or don’t get selected by then, the chance of getting on is very very low. If you’re a kid in a rec club, with a parent who doesn’t know much about gymnastics, by the time you realise age 8 or 9 that you aren’t on the track you want to be the compulsory kids have several years already and the chances of a coach taking you on and trying to catch up are slim.

Then it varies club to club and area to area. Some clubs only take 3 or 4 of the absolute best for compulsories, some will put everyone in for comp5 and see what happens. Some like kids who are exceptional at r&c, others like stronger more powerful kids who may excel at difficulty.

Basically what i’m trying to say is while the compulsory system is very good, I feel it’s a bit pot luck as to whether you get on it, especially for some of the later bloomers. I also feel that the hours and the intensity put into the comp kids so young in many clubs leads to burn out, yet the non compulsory kids have been left behind.

I know some clubs genuinely do see out of age/challenge as viable and these kids are given the same opportunities. But many put all their effort into the few compulsories and out of age/challenge don’t get the hours or coach input.

Have to say I preferred the structure back in my day :eek:ld: - everyone did club grades, if you were able you skipped ahead. Once you’d passed club grade 1 you did regional grades, then nationals, then elite compulsories. It didn’t stop the super talented from flying ahead, but it also meant the worker plugging away grade by grade could get to elite as well.

Speaking of, can anyone else still sing the compulsory music? I think i can remember the routines too!
 

Jenny

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It didn’t stop the super talented from flying ahead, but it also meant the worker plugging away grade by grade could get to elite as well.
Still very true. Some girls have taken 2 or 3 goes to pass some of the grades to qualify.
 

Jenny

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Marvellous. The usual 'shut up and stop moaning' shutdown when anyone makes a criticism of the Challenge Cup setup. No wonder no-one comments much on this forum.
and the usual make a disrespectful rude comment by a new member instead of taking the time to join the discussion and reply to individual points.

The system is not perfect but the out of age compulsory route and challenge qualifier do give girls time and repeated attempts to qualify to the British. Still more improvements to come I know. The bottom end of the British needs looking at. There used to be a requal score that you had to hit at the British each year to be able to return but that brought its own problems.
 

Jenny

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It's an interesting one. Is the 'out of age' route for compulsories really available for anyone out of age, or just for those one year out of age?

**Yes at any age, many are coming through and straight into older age groups. **

I'm a bit on the fence. I like the theory as Jenny sells it, but I think that is only works out for the girls at top clubs and who are aiming for the absolute top of the field.

***There are many many different clubs qualifying to the British. The bigger clubs are possibly better and more experienced at getting girls bigger start values to get in through challenge cup. Lots of smaller clubs are following the compulsory grades route all the way through and making it.***


I can empathise with the frustrations of a gymnast who has worked hard and come through at an older age leaving them with what seems like an impossible route through the Challenge Cup. I think there must be a case that some of the top end challenge girls are better than some of the bottom end British girls. But I also see the careful and thorough groundings in skills going through the compulsory route.

*I agree with all of this.
 

Faith

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Thinking about it then, if the structure is working at the moment, then maybe it’s more about club’s and coaches attitudes towards ooa/challenge cup?

Maybe if it was seen generally as a viable alternative, maybe for certain types of gymasts, or those that fall off the ia route due to injury, burn out etc, or maybe can’t take it up due to family circumstance?

The two or three clubs I’ve been involved with that did compulsory it was very much compulsory kids with all the attention and hours, then everyone else. Ooa was very rare, and challenge cup usually only done by those who didn’t manage to compete comp 2 or 1 due to injury.

The ooa/challenge route obviously can work, i just maybe don’t think it’s utilised enough for kids that don’t do compulsories.

There seems to be a big gap between compulsory gymnasts- as we saw in junior worlds 2014 when we had an amazing team, everyone thought 2016 would have a big depth of field to choose from. Then all the jw gymnasts injured or disappeared and there were none of that age group calibre coming up as well... looking at London, for example, huge talent pool, massive population yet only a handful compete compulsory, and one or two do ooa.
 

Learning Parent GB

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Maybe it is just a case of time for some areas to see the OOA compulsories as a valid route for gymnasts more than a year out of age. I know someone who has taken that route and is still seen as brave and highly unusual. But the more people that do it, the more places will consider it. It's nice to hear that there are lots coming through that way though. That sounds like a big step forward.
 
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minnie97

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and the usual make a disrespectful rude comment by a new member instead of taking the time to join the discussion and reply to individual points.
Actually I have been member of this forum for 6 years, and gym parent for 11 years through club grades, compulsories, Challenge Cups, English Champs, British Teams, regional squad, and England squad. I just generally prefer to read/listen rather than assume I know better than everyone else...
 

GymBeamRisky

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Interesting to read the varied replies. It seems that most people seem to feel the system may not be as fair or at least not working as well as it could be. I totally agree with what Faith has to say regarding gymnasts destiny and how they end up on a particular route , national or Compulsory, is more down to various circumstances and fate rather than personal choice. It would be an ideal world if as Jenny says , “ you have a choice” and “you can choose” which path you follow to the British but in the reality your future is often mapped out depending on where you live, what club you join, how old you are at outset and a number of other factors .

My own daughter started comparatively late at 7 years, was invited to join a development squad almost immediately and is currently on the national pathway. Basically trying to catch up to a compulsory level standard in time for the grades was a little too much to expect from a standing start at 7 I feel. Added to that the club she joined seemed to be less inclined to even consider the compulsory route for any of its gymnasts anymore favouring the less demanding national route. They still seem to be sticking to that principle today despite the fact they get an incredible number of budding young gymnasts through their doors. It was ultimately the club that made the choice for her, but other factors played a part in that decision as outlined above. In my daughters case we simply got both the club and the timing wrong to ever realistically have a chance of making the compulsory’s . Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing ? :)

But I digress, as others have also in regard to my OP. My thoughts were not about the other options available of which I am well aware but specifically the challenge cup option where many of what’s left of Britains non compulsory talent pool end up. If we take the Junior challenge for example a gymnast scoring 46 points in the any of the years 2014-2019 would have finished at lowest 21st and best at 12th in the British finals. This of course is 2 full points below entry requirements. When there is are no shortage of girls who have qualified via the compulsory system that are scoring below and sometimes significantly below 46 I can quite understand for many girls a qualification score of 48 would seem unfair in relation to what position they might be able to attain at the British on a slightly lower qualifying score. The fact is the numbers speak for themselves, if you deny a 46 scoring junior challenge gymnast a place at the British ultimately you are contributing to an overall lower scoring and weaker British since many at the aforementioned event are not hitting anywhere near that mark.

Given the numbers I cannot but feel that the junior score of 48 and the senior score of 50 have been cynically set by BG so as they only give top 10 British squad potential gymnasts entry from the challenge into the British. Maybe anyone scoring slightly less than this is considered an unnecessary nuisance despite the fact there would almost definitely be some challenge girls that would comfortably make the top 20 ? Cynical or not the end result is that very few indeed will ever qualify for the British given the unattainable scores that many already at the British cannot also not attain.

So my view has not changed. I categorically feel that some gymnasts are being denied their rightful place at the British given their top 20 potential finishing scores. Put another way , why on earth would you not allow a girl who has the proven ability at a major national championship to go on to finish anywhere from 14th to 21st at the British an opportunity to do that? She may even be so good at a particular App that she also might medal in the App finals.

As the title of my OP suggests I continue to believe it’s an unfair challenge but regrettably I feel it is a challenge too far for BG to fully recognise what these girls have achieved through years of hard work and dedication on a pathway that through fate or for one reason or another was not of their choosing.
 
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Jules

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It’s been interesting to see the posts on this topic. I’m posting as a parent of a gymnast who has just stopped, and she was due to take Compulsory one this year

I’m afraid I really don’t think you can compare Challenge and British scores. I’ve been to both on numerous occasions and the Challenge scores do tend to be on the generous side. The whole arena at British is also a far more intimidating environment which is not comparable to the Challenge competition.

I wish Challenge was celebrated more as a competition in its own right rather than a pathway to British. It has a qualifying score and so is a competition that squad girls can really aspire to, as British is way out of reach of the majority. These national competitions should be aspirational, Challenge is a really high level and British is truly elite.

The pass marks for compulsory levels have also been raised. The Compulsory route is hard, my daughter didn’t start gymnastics until she was 7 and so was out of age and was always playing catch up. On that route there are no medals, just slogging away to get the mark for the next level. It really is a tough route that shouldn’t be underestimated. In many ways, with the benefit of hindsight, National Grades with the possibility of representing her region at National Finals might have been a happier route for her.

With all sports there is an element of luck (& perhaps fate) and part of that might be living near a gym that offers all routes. I’m sorry OP, I cannot agree that “gymnasts are being denied their rightful place at the British” because it’s not true, you just have to accept the rules. I do understand where you are coming from as my own daughter was chasing that dream for years and it was heartbreaking when she finally decided she’d had enough, when she’d got so close.

Interesting debate though!
 

GymBeamRisky

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Thanks for your post Jules. As I have already mentioned my post is not regarding the compulsory route.Certain posts on this forum seem to be trying to turn this into a “them v us “ or a “compulsory v national” debate. Nobody is disputing the rigorous nature of the compulsory route but my post was about the national pathway and the extremely rigorous scores they need to attain to even just compete at the British.

I really hope that what you suggest about the challenge being marked “on the generous side” in reality is not the case as at such a high level competition it kind of makes a mockery of British Gymnastics itself . Are you trying to suggest that the qualifying scores of the challenge are so high because BG need to take into account the generous scoring ? If this is actually the case then our system needs a radical reform less we become the laughing stock of world gymnastics. I have not personally been to a challenge cup final and even if I had been I would not feel as qualified as yourself ( which I assume you are, maybe you are from an advanced judging background ? ) to make such a judgement about the scoring of the judges. I can only hope that BG do put in place some of the more ,shall we say, highly qualified judges given the pedigree of the competition and the fact it is a feeder competition to the British finals.

I accept a British is going to be more intimidating than a challenge as a challenge will be more intimidating on first appearance than probably anything else a gymnast has been through. In the case of my daughter she recently reached her first national grade final at Fenton Manor which was the biggest competition of her life and she positively thrived on the atmosphere reaching a very respectable position indeed as one of the youngest competitors. Now of course Fenton Manor is not the British but at all ages everything is relative and none of us can deny that some handle the big occasions better than others irrespective of what ability they have.

My daughter is some way off any potential challenge cup qualifier but since her gymnastics journey began I have found hindsight in all things gymnastics is such a wonderful thing so I have been trying to gradually acquire a little foresight into everything gymnastics which may or may not help me make more informed decisions on her behalf and with her agreement in the future.

With the greatest respect Jules , “ No I do not have to accept “ or put more accurately “ agree” with the rules. However if you can back up your “ challenge scores tend to be more on the generous side” with some irrevocable evidence or documentation I am certainly more than open to reconsider !
 

Learning Parent GB

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Can I just take a moment to step back and clarify what the qualifying scores are from the Challenge Cup to the British? I thought it was 47.5 for juniors. I know there was a very recent release, so could somebody link or confirm for me please. (I have a gymnast who is giving it a go, and it is good to at least know the target!)

As for compulsory vs national, I do see the fun in being able to represent your region at national finals, but once you get to compulsory 2 it is direct entry to the national finals anyway - so it only matters for a couple of years.

The scoring issue is an interesting one. Coming up through the system I'm sure that the judging gets more 'harsh' as you go up the levels and to more national level competitions. But that is why the judges go through different levels of qualifications and the best are used at national level competitions. But I would definitely assume that included the Challenge Cup.

I like seeing that other people are thinking about this. A score of 46 seems relatively achievable to move through to the British, whereas 48 seems quite tough in my mind. I'd put it somewhere in the middle -just below whatever my gymnast scores, naturally!
 

Annikins

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I've been following this debate, and interested in everything said so far. My daughter is on the national grade route, and one day (in a few years time!) would like to qualify for the challenge cup and try for the British. I strongly agree that the judging should be the same at both, purely because otherwise it does feel very unfair that many girls who can't qualify for the British are scoring higher than those who are already there. Particularly because often it won't be due to a difference in talent, but due to which club you went to, how ambitious/experienced your coaches were, and what age you started gymnastics, which all don't seem like good reasons to not be included in the highest competition offered if you now have the necessary skills.

At the risk of hijacking the thread (maybe I should start my own one?) the other thing I am confused about is why the Regional Grades and the Compulsory Grades are grouped into age brackets, but a young National grader is up against people potentially 5 years older, and therefore is less likely to get into the regional team than someone a couple of years older, who has been doing those skills 3 years instead of 1... Anyone know why it's only the National Grades that mix the ages? It means they don't get the experience of the national finals that the compulsory gymnasts get, as the regional team for compulsories all have to be in age. Thanks!
 

Learning Parent GB

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In our region, on competition day medals are given by age group for both national and regional grades. Then they call out the top 5 across all age groups who have made the national grade finals team. For regional grades, there is no team as no national finals. So in that way it seems fairly similar to me. If people are entered at the correct level then they all have an equal chance of representing their region and aren't limited by when they started gymnastics, or which club they are at. An older girl may have started gymnastics later, but still gets an equal chance to compete.

As for compulsory finals - yep they are only in age for 4 and 3. But when you get to compulsory 2 it is direct entry to the national finals. However, the out of age girls are still treated a little like second class citizens as even then they just get told 'well done you passed' and can't medal.

So actually, I think the national grades are the most equitable. Sometimes it looks odd with a much older gymnast on a team with a tiny young gymnast, but in some years it is the youngest age groups who score the best as they are very close to being a compulsory gymnast.
 

Annikins

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In our region, on competition day medals are given by age group for both national and regional grades. Then they call out the top 5 across all age groups who have made the national grade finals team. For regional grades, there is no team as no national finals. So in that way it seems fairly similar to me. If people are entered at the correct level then they all have an equal chance of representing their region and aren't limited by when they started gymnastics, or which club they are at. An older girl may have started gymnastics later, but still gets an equal chance to compete.

As for compulsory finals - yep they are only in age for 4 and 3. But when you get to compulsory 2 it is direct entry to the national finals. However, the out of age girls are still treated a little like second class citizens as even then they just get told 'well done you passed' and can't medal.

So actually, I think the national grades are the most equitable. Sometimes it looks odd with a much older gymnast on a team with a tiny young gymnast, but in some years it is the youngest age groups who score the best as they are very close to being a compulsory gymnast.
Our region is not like that. I'm pretty sure my daughter would have medalled in her age group, which would have been a much-needed confidence boost, but they only read out the top five in all age groups, so it was all the older ones instead.

We know a couple of the older medallists, and what they can do in training, and tbh it's not that they started later and are that level, it seems more like the clubs just wanted the guaranteed medals!
 
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GymBeamRisky

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The national grades age thing is a difficult one. In essence I think you are both right. On the one hand as Learning Parent has said it gives the late starters or slower developers a chance to compete doing exactly the same skills as everybody else irrespective of age but on the other hand I think as Annikins is suggesting the system can be open to legal manipulation by some clubs holding back their gymnasts for that extra year in order to increase the chances of national finals qualification. In our region I have often had more than a little suspicion that a “little game playing” in a few small areas might be going in to increase success.

The girls of all ages may be doing the same grades skills but nobody can deny that the girls that are maybe 1 to 3 years older than the youngest gymnasts will be physically far stronger due to age which can be an advantage on many of the disciplines. That being said ,maybe the older ones may not be quite as flexible or some of them have become quite tall which generally does not help.

I remember thinking at national 4 that due to the open age that the playing field was not exactly level particularly as my daughter had a near year end birthday. However on the plus side I think the older girls competing drove her to work harder. She went on to miss out on a national 3 place by around 0.5 but finally qualified at national 2 this year winning a number of golds in her region.

My daughter has now experienced a national final which had been her dream for the last few years. She is hoping to achieve the same next year but is a lot more relaxed about things now, going to the final at least once was the main thing.

There have been between 2 and 3 older girls who made a top 5 place in each of her national grade years and I suspect this is probably the case in other regions. Whatever the rights and wrongs I do sympathise with other gymnasts and their parents who may miss out on the opportunity of a national grade final which may we’ll have been attained in an in age event.

Just one final thought. How many other national children's sports completions can anyone think of that are open on child age to compete subject to a minimum age. Just out of curiosity this one as I cannot think of one right now !
 
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