FROMESIDE Gymnastics club are hoping the success of London Olympians Imogen Cairns and Jennifer Pinches will inspire more youngsters to follow in their footsteps.
Cairns and Pinches both began their journeys from a young age at the Winterbourne-based club and were part of Great Britain’s most successful women’s artistic team since the second world war by finishing sixth at the North Greenwich Arena.
They were both national age group champions while at the club before moving away from the area, with Cairns joining former Fromeside head coach Liz Kincaid at the Academy in Portishead when she was 14 and Pinches moving up North with her family when she was nine.
Cairns, 23, became the first gymnast to come from the club and go on to represent Great Britain at an Olympics when she went to Beijing in 2008, while 18-year-old Pinches made her Games debut in London.
Fromeside manager Margaret Powell has been involved with the club for 18 years and was delighted to see Cairns and Pinches performing on the biggest stage of all after coaching them both when they were youngsters.
“It’s great for the club and great for gymnastics,” said Powell.
“I would like to think it would inspire all youngsters to get into gymnastics.
“We have got good kids coming up so hopefully we will have more to come, but you don’t know what’s going to happen in years to come.”
Powell noticed something special about Cairns and Pinches straight away.
She said: “You can pick talent quite early on, but you can’t pick determination to push yourself.
“I remember Jenny firing herself onto the vault in her first couple of weeks.”
Coach Kim Whittingham, who worked under Kincaid at Fromeside and is still mentored by her, was starting out when she came across Cairns and Pinches for the first time and remains in contact with both of them.
“Jenny was a cheeky little thing, and a very talented young lady,” Whittingham recalled.
“You could give her a book and she’d teach herself gymnastics.
“My daughter wanted to be like Imogen because she was the best at the club. She was lovely and easy to coach.”
Whittingham watched Cairns and Pinches in action in the qualifying session at the North Greenwich Arena and also believes Fromeside can benefit from their success, with more people looking to take up the sport.
She said: “We’re so proud to be involved and to be part of what we were watching was fantastic.
“It enforces all the basics and beginning blocks, which all started at Fromeside.
“Gymnasts don’t tend to talk about their grassroots clubs but we’re lucky that Jenny and Imogen have publicised Fromeside.
“I feel like we should be able to benefit from that and it’s nice for Fromeside to have that recognition.”