An East Kilbride gymnastics coach has pleaded with the Scottish Government to give young gymnasts a chance by easing restrictions, and says they’re being ‘unfairly penalised’.

East Kilbride Gymnastics Club coaches Brenna Cruickshank and Emma Waugh set up a petition asking for the sport to return in bubbles, attracting over 640 signatures overnight.

And head coach Kellyanne Farwell warned the Scottish Government not to under-estimate the strength of feeling in the gymnastics community, saying current restrictions are strangling the sport.

Kellyanne said: “It’s the most frustrating thing because we see bubbles being formed for people to meet at restaurants and indoors – everywhere apart from indoor sports.

“For acrobatics the most that can be in a partnership is four, so all we would need are bubbles of two, three or four for us to do the sport that we love.

“That’s the reason for the petition, to try and do something to get us heard, to make a difference.

“We’re not being heard because we’re not an Olympic sport, is what we’ve been told.

East Kilbride gymnasts showed Sports Minister John Fitzpatrick some moves, prior to Covid restrictions

“There are kids in Scotland within acrobatic gymnastics who have the opportunity to represent Great Britain at the World Championships and they’re going to be penalised for being Scottish.

“It’s hard enough being Scottish because we’re the smaller nation; usually England come on top of us, so when Scotland get the chance to be in Team GB it is a massive deal for Scottish gymnastics.

“They’re not going to get that opportunity because England are ahead once again - they’re training and we’re not.

“As coach I can go in and try to keep these kids as motivated as possible, but there’s only so much that I can do, and the harsh reality is that you’re going to start losing kids to the sport.”

Kellyanne added: “The kids dedicate their life to it, they are training 16 to 18 hours a week and they’re just not able to do what they love.

“We’re in the gym, we have to be two metres apart socially distanced, so they’re trying to keep up flexibility and individual core strengths, and general fitness.

“We’ve been doing that for seven months now so these kids are as fit as they’ve ever been, but they’re still not allowed the contact to do acrobatic gymnastics.

Kellyanne says the club's youngsters are unable to train properly

“They’ve now put an extra rule in to say that over-18s aren’t allowed to do sport indoor now, so our coach Brenna isn’t allowed to train with us now, and it’s another blow to these 17 and 18 year olds.

“I feel like everything’s been taken away from these youngsters and it’s about time that we try and get somebody to listen to us, basically.”

The petition has had a fast uptake, but Kellyanne’s not surprised by that.

“I think that’s why there has been such a big uptake in the petition in such a short space of time, because it affects so many gymnasts.”

The petition is online now at change.org under “Allow the restart of acrobatic gymnastics in bubbles”.

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