Putting the bounce into the Games

Children learn trampolining at the Southfield School's sports hall. Pictured are (L-R): Charlotte Aiken (13) & Paige Murdin (11).
Children learn trampolining at the Southfield School's sports hall. Pictured are (L-R): Charlotte Aiken (13) & Paige Murdin (11).
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The countdown to the London 2012 Olympics is well under way.

It will be the first time the Olympics has been held in Britain since 1948 and will be watched by millions of people around the world.

To mark the countdown to the start of the games, The Evening Telegraph is running a series of special reports every fortnight on the A to Z of Olympic sports.

This week, features editor Joni Ager finds out more about the gymnastic sport of trampolining.

Northampton Trampoline Centre is the top training facility for the sport in the UK.

It is an official Olympic training camp and has just hosted Australian gymnast Blake Gaudry and Japan’s Masaki Ito, Ayano Kishi and Ayana Yamada as they prepared for the London Olympic Test Event.

It has trained some of the best trampolinists in the country, including the county-born James Higgins, who narrowly missed out on a spot at London 2012.

But the Northamptonshire Trampoline Gymnastics Academy also works with youngsters as young as five who just want to try the sport for fun.

As well as running sessions from the main centre in Northampton, the academy runs satellite sessions at Southfield School for Girls in Kettering on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The classes were started 12 years ago by coach Mandy Daybles, who competed herself when she was younger.

She is now a full-time coach and tutor, travelling the country to teach teachers how to run trampolining classes in schools as well as coaching for the Northamptonshire Trampoline Gymnastics Academy.

She said: “My sister and I started going to gymnastics, just recreationally, when we were eight and 10.

“The general gymnastics class was fully booked but we saw there was trampolining going on so we had a go and I’ve turned it into a career.”

She added: “It doesn’t feel like work. I really enjoy it and it’s great to see the kids progress.”

Trampolining as a hobby is something that has really taken off in back gardens all over the country but the sport is a whole different ball game.

Mandy said: “It is quite technical. It takes quite a while to get the basics. It’s a sport that take a very long time to get to world-class level.

“When the youngsters come in, we start with one hour a week just doing the basics, then if they want to progress we step it up. I can tell from the first session if they have what it takes to be good at it.

“Above all it’s fun, it gives you better co-ordination and improves balance. It’s also really good for fitness and stamina.”

Charlotte Aiken, 13, a pupil at Southfield School for Girls, has been trampolining for three years.

She said: “My sister came and I decided to try it as well. I really like it. Sometimes it feels as though you’re jumping really high but you get used to it.”

Eleven-year-old Paige Murdon, who goes to Sir Christopher Hatton School in Wellingborough, started trampolining a year ago and has just taken part in her first competition.

She said: “I like the fact that you can do different moves.”

The Northamptonshire Trampoline Gymnastics Academy runs summer holiday sessions at Southfield School for Girls.