Springing into 2018 with grand plans for centre of excellence

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 2 Jan 2018

A GYMNASTICS business is aiming for centre of excellence status as it explores the possibility of providing a base for training and education of potential future Olympians.

Grimsby Twist and Flip Gymnastics Academy has recently completed a first year of operations in the standalone ‘old’ sports hall at Oasis Wintringham.

Taking on the lease is a huge leap from humble beginnings as an after school club in the library of a Scartho primary school, but the ambition remains to push on further, as it sees 700 budding athletes a week use the world-class facilities.

More than £150,000 has already been invested by the husband and wife team, Nicky and Mark Nicol, and they are in discussion with potential funders about what else can be done in the short, medium and long term.

Nicky, originally from Sheffield, has represented Great Britain, as well as regularly competing regionally and nationally. 

She said: “There is such an appetite for it and it is great that all the children of this area can experience something like this. 

“Previously they may never have got to experience anything like this.”

MODEST START: Grimsby Twist & Flip Gymnastics Academy at Springfield Primary. Right, early success with young prospects.

With coaching qualifications, she approached the head at Springfield Primary Academy, where she was working as a dinner lady.

It went from one night a week to four sessions, becoming a keyholder at the school as it branched out to Saturday mornings, moving from library to hall.

But when a major refurbishment began, the hall was required, and it proved to be the springboard they needed to establish themselves as a permanent fixture.

“It had grown and grown and we needed to look for somewhere. We had to put everything up and then away again, it was hard work,” she said.

Read more: Team GB Olympians on hand to open new gymnastics centre

The facilities at Wintringham were identified, with a business proposal put together, which went via the principal to the Oasis central board. 

Approval came spring, and after a complete refurbishment spanning five months, it opened in August. Equipment from Gymnova was selected, and underlining the quality, Mr Nicol said: “They came back from Rio, having been out there for the Olympics, and installed our site on the Monday morning.”

A team of 12, including apprentices now provides sessions for schools and at schools, while hosting British Gymnastics’ Key Steps Gymnastics competition.

There are then clubs in the evening and on a Saturday morning, as well as festivals and continuous professional development training for teachers.

Mr Nicol, who met his wife when he sold her parents a caravan at Beachcomber in Humberston, is working with Investment Hub NEL to progress plans.

First off is improving accessibility for all, as work continues to improve waiting areas, moving it on from the school facility it was to more adult-friendly leisure environment, with strong vibrant branding.

“We are restricted with what disabilities can use the gym,” he said. 

“We have all the right equipment for wheelchair users, but we don’t have wheelchair-friendly changing room and toilet. That is our next big project we are going to do. 

“We have organisations in the town who want to come, but we can’t facilitate them until we complete this project.

“Our aim, our next five year plan, is to look at getting centre of excellence status, ensuring we work to a certain criteria, then set to set up schooling between us and Oasis.

“That’s what we would like.”

Grander plans could see an extension to provide a viewing gallery within the hall.

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