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Rodwell produces a golden performance in Sheffield

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Evie Rodwell was one of the Eastern Region’s star performers at the National Special Olympic Games earlier this month.

The 15-year-old, who is a gymnast with Down’s syndrome, particularly excelled in the vault, from which she claimed a gold medal.

Bronze medals followed in the floor, beam and bar disciplines, helping the Long Stratton Gymnastics Club member to earn a silver medal for her overall effort throughout the competition.

For Rodwell, it was a case of mission accomplished in Sheffield, having missed out on gold at the same event four years ago, returning home on that occasion with five silver medals.

Mum Jo — chair of Long Stratton Gymnastics Club — said of her daughter’s achievement: “A lot of effort and years and years of training have gone into this success.

“Evie started gymnastics aged five and has been a member at Long Stratton since the age of eight.

“As a rule, Evie struggles at school and sometimes in life in general with Down’s syndrome, but gymnastics gives her real confidence.

“We are really proud of what she has achieved — she deserves it.”

Rodwell’s club-mate Shane Baxter, 18, also performed to a high level, racking up five gold medals, a silver and a bronze and was named the Games’ top male gymnast.

However, the medal-winning duo could soon find themselves without a place to train as the club continues its desperate search for new premises.

Its current home — Long Stratton Leisure Centre — is set to undergo a £2m revamp in the near future, which could render the facility out of action for up to year.

A temporary training venue has been secured in Norwich, but with travel and cost implications, a number of the approximately 70-strong Long Stratton gymnasts will be unable to attend sessions on a regular basis.

The Long Stratton Leisure Centre has told the club they will welcome them back once the redevelopment is complete and is also working with them to find an alternative base close by, but they have had no luck so far.

Jo Rodwell said: “We know at least 10 of our members are not going to be able to make the sessions in Norwich.

“We have had others say they will be able to attend regularly, but whether that happens is another question.

“Lots of our members live on the A140 corridor, so getting to Norwich twice a week is going to add a lot of travelling time.

“With gymnastics, you need to keep training to keep up your skills — it would be a real shame if all the development could not continue.

“It is more about finding somewhere to store all of our equipment. The high beam, for example, is 1.5m high and 5m long. Hopefully someone will be able to help us.”

n Those interested in helping the club can contract Jo Rodwell on 01379 688338 or 07947 558943 or email jrhomework@gmail.com.

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