Stage set for Simm’s comeback

SOUTHAMPTON’S Kelly Simm may have been out of action since November last year, but she plans to come back with a bang at the British Championships this weekend in Liverpool.

Kelly Simm - credits to Team Solent

Simm back in competition mode – Photo credits to Team Solent

An injury after securing a World Team Bronze medal at the end of 2016 hampered the start of her Olympic season, and despite only just finishing her rehabilitation programme, she feels the pressure is off for this competition.

“There is pressure with any competition, no matter what the size, but it terms of getting results, I don’t feel there is much pressure on me this time round.

“This competition gives me a chance to push on the rest of the season. Me and my coaches are just so happy to be here and it’s a chance to get used to competing in a big arena again.”


Simm commentated for the BBC in Glasgow, working alongside Matt Baker (pictured)

Simm admits that the preparation leading up to Saturday’s event has been stressful, and having to withdraw from the World Cup event in Glasgow last month was a difficult decision, but the extra time has been beneficial to her recovery: “It has been tough to get things together for this weekend.

“(By not competing in Glasgow), it has allowed me to have the time to finish my rehabilitation plan properly before building my skills back up again. It will be good to be able to push on after this and get back in the gym.”

The 20-year-old expresses her joy being back at the Echo Arena and how lucky she feels to even be competing: “It’s always nice to compete in Liverpool. The British is always such a special competition and the crowd in the arena create an amazing atmosphere for us all!

Despite not performing her hardest elements this weekend, Simm knows there is more to come from this Olympic season: “It’s my first competition of the year due to the setback, and because of injury, I’m not doing all my difficulty.

IMG_1011“I’m just happy I am able to compete on all four pieces, but I’m excited to get back in the gym next week and work on getting the bigger skills together and consolidate them.”

The World University Champion is no stranger to competition at the highest level, helping the GB squad earn a full women’s team in Rio later this year, and is relishing returning to action with the best Britain has to offer.

“Everyone is looking really good at the start of this year and it depends completely on what happens on the day. Gymnastics is so hard to predict!”

And she is right – the women’s event has been blown wide open in the last few months, and with places in Rio up for grabs, this competition could be their defining moment. The Team GB coaches have some difficult decisions to make in the next couple of months.


Tinkler receiving her all-around trophy in the Team event

16-year-old Amy Tinkler (South Durham) will be looking to retain her all-around British title from 2015 and was the stand-out performer in the British Team event last month in Glasgow, bagging the overall crown, as well as two other trophies for highest scores to add to her growing collection.


Fragapane mastering a sheet jump on the beam

Meanwhile, 4ft 5in tumbling powerhouse Claudia Fragapane from Bristol Hawks, will mount a very tough challenge to keep her place for Rio. Frags, known for her energetic and innovative dance, already has four gold commonwealth medals to her name from 2014, and could easily increase her tally this weekend.

The likes of Liverpool’s Rebecca Tunney and Ruby Harrold from The Academy have bundles of experience on the GB team after coming through the junior ranks, and their spot on the plane to Rio is far from secure. Tomorrow’s event could catapult them into the coaches’ minds once more.


Rebecca Downie surprised after finishing a clean routine!

And then we also have double trouble in the Downie sisters. Older sibling, Rebecca, is more of a bars and beam specialist in the last few years and showcased her new routines in Glasgow last month, but could push to go for the all-around title to ensure her trip to Brazil.

Whereas, baby sister Elissa is rapidly climbing through the junior ranks and broke into the senior squad at the end of last year, remaining overwhelmingly consistent across all apparatus and has a genuine chance of the overall title on Saturday, as well as a GB spot.

Finally, Southampton Solent student, Kelly, may be coming back from injury, but the selectors certainly can’t rule her out of the Olympics this summer, with world university titles under her belt.

The women’s event is too close to call, and sparks could fly once more with the British elite fighting to become national champion.


Interviewing football legend, Matt le Tissier

12688111_10208535046795972_5932529789954733731_nI’m feeling like a very lucky girl at the moment. Third year at university and on course to get a very good honours degree in Sports Journalism, five different jobs, making a wealth of contacts and a family who couldn’t be prouder of me. But all of this was surpassed on Tuesday morning. I interviewed my childhood hero!

It seemed to be a stroke of luck more than anything else – working as a Press Officer for my local football club, AFC Totton, the interview just fell into my lap, and I somehow kept my cool… Until I got back in the car!

So here is the interview with Southampton legend, Matt le Tissier (all in one take, might I add!), talking about his academy’s new partnership with the football club. We’ve nearly reached 500 views in just 2 days, let’s keep it going!



Local Athletics superstar adds gold to medal collection

Abigail Davies, studying at Southampton Solent University, has overcome a long battle with injury to become 60m South West champion for the first time in her career.

“I couldn’t walk at one point last year.” – Abi Davies

Abi Davies' gold medalThe victory on Sunday moves her up the rankings to 12th fastest in the UK in the under 23s category and just outside the top 100 in all age groups.

The 20-year-old, who was competing for Southampton Athletics Club, breezed through her semi-final in the Grand Prix Series in Cardiff. She left the rest of her heat trailing in her wake with a time of 7.94 seconds, beating her closest opponent by nearly half a second, to set up a hotly-contested battle with other semi-final winner, Yvette Westwood.

The final itself was a very strong line up, but Davies went into the race as narrow favourite over Yate and District’s Westwood for the title, despite fracturing one ankle and spraining the other just 12 months earlier.

Davies, originally from Bath, came through with flying colours, matching her time from the previous round, and pipping fierce rival, Westwood, to the line by just 0.02 of a second.

Abi Davies HPAThe third year Sports Journalism student admits that the recovery has been tough in the last year but being a part of the High Performance Academy at Solent has encouraged her to come back stronger: “The rehab process took a year because I heavily damaged my ankle, so much so that I couldn’t walk at one point.

“But HPA and Solent have been amazing, helping me every step of the way to get back to doing what I love best and winning medals.”

This title joins her other sporting accolades, such as Midland Champion and Welsh Champion at 60m, as well as Captain of the Solent Athletics Team.

The multi-talented athlete also competes in Bobsleigh, and her overwhelming speed on the track has catapulted her into the Team GB squad hoping to make it to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

Snipers Cheerleading Academy smash their first ever competition

Snipers full comp squad

The Senior Cheer team before going on stage

DESPITE being formed just seven months ago, Snipers Cheerleading Academy placed all seven of their routines in the top three at the Autumn Allstar competition in Eastbourne last weekend.

The squad, based in Hounsdown, topped the standings in four different categories, coming first in all three pairs dance routines, as well as in the highest level senior stunt team in the entire competition.

In addition to the first placed trophies, Snipers also came home with a 2nd and 3rd in the open and junior level 2 stunt teams respectively, but it was the Senior Cheer routine that was the most pleasing result of the weekend for the club.

This was the first and only chance for the full squad to show their potential before Nationals in March. With only one fall in the two and a half minute routine, the 18-man squad produced a stunning performance, taking 2nd out of eight teams, and just 0.75 away from category favourites, Vista Twisters in first.

Sam Youren - Head Coach

Sam works alongside a committee to run the club

Snipers Head Coach, Sam Youren, believes her squad have achieved everything and more from their goals they set for their first competition, but wants to push the team further for Nationals. “I am completely overwhelmed by the results this weekend.

“For a brand new squad, we have exceeded every other teams’ expectations of us, and even though we had brilliant results, there are still a lot of things we need to work on for March. Nationals will be a bigger competition and we can’t become complacent, just because of what we have already achieved.”

Dance Captain Eva Newton + pair routines winners

Dance Coach Eva Newton with Junior Pair winners, Amy and Chloe

It is not just the Head Coach who is looking to improve the squad. Dance Coach, Eva Newton, who choreographed the senior cheer routine, as well as the three winning pair routines, says: “There were some mistakes and need to work on tighter arm lines throughout the dance sections, but all the hard work paid off.

“Now we have competed for the first time, we now understand what the judges like and don’t like so I know what to work on for the next event, but our team is a family. I am so proud of them.”

And this is not the first time the club has been noticed in the local community. In September, Snipers Cheerleading were recognised in a national competition run by Miller Homes, and won a £500 grant to put towards new training facilities.

Miller Homes - Snipers Cheerleaders-019

Miller Homes came down to Hounsdown and got involved with the stunting!

They have all ages and abilities within the squad, as well as boys and girls, and welcome beginners and ex cheerleaders/gymnasts for training sessions. For more information about training times or queries on starting with the club, contact Sam on

Welcome to the life of a 3rd year University student…

I am happy to admit that being a third year sports journalism student is chaotic, frustrating, time-consuming and draining. But it is possibly the most rewarding thing I will ever do in my career. It will be setting me up for life!

So I thought it would be a good time to show you exactly what our university students do when they aren’t drinking to drown their sorrows! Here is only our 2nd ever fully live broadcast that went on air from Solent University.

Me and my team of five created the last package on celebrating 130 years of AFC Totton, a local football club who have had more then their share of ups and downs. Watch the video, feel free to share as much as you like and comment away!!

GB’s Max Cater just misses out on top spot in Poland

Max Cater - Polish Open

Cater with GB Performance Coach Harry No.

GREAT Britain Tae Kwon Do star, Max Cater, has added to his impressive medal tally in the men’s under 54kg category, taking a silver from the Polish Open over the bank holiday weekend.

The 17-year-old, who lived in Holbury before moving to the country’s Tae Kwon Do base in Manchester, was seeded 2nd in the event, but lost in the final to pre-tournament favourite, Jesus Tortosa Cabrera from Spain.

It was a fairly straightforward bout in Cater’s opening match against the Dutch athlete, Vincent Godel, and won the match 17-5 to swiftly progress into the semi-finals.

The 2014 men’s Commonwealth champion then faced Belarus’ Illia Kukshyntsau for a place in the final. It was to be a tougher match, but Max won in style, comfortably beating him 21-8 to set up a mouth-watering dual between the top two seeds.

The Spaniard was going into the final as favourite and was a very close encounter which was to be expected, but pipped Max to win the title 20-14.

This silver caps off an outstanding year for Max, after tournament wins in Bosnia and Switzerland earlier this year as well as podium finishes in Australia and Turkey.

Snipers Cheerleading Head Coach is vying for top spot at Nationals with brand new squad

11130226_10153831678254922_6390578610167157099_nSnipers Cheerleading Academy may have only been up and running since Easter, but their coach targets a National title in their first full season.

The squad, based in Hounsdown in the New Forest, are aiming for the same success they had with Southern Sirens Cheerleading Squad, before relations within the team broke down and all members made the transition four months ago.


Head Coach Sam Youren is taking 7 routines to the Eastbourne competition in just 10 weeks’ time

Sam Youren, Snipers Head Coach, sees their first competition in Eastbourne in early November as a warm up to the National Championships in March, but doesn’t want to pressurise her new team.

“We’ve had a lot of success in the past few years at Eastbourne and I want the team to do well after putting in so much time and effort over the last few months. But I know that it may be a little scary for some of the newest members.

“There’s a lot of good competitive squads going in November, but I don’t see why we couldn’t place in the top three – our stunts are harder, our dance is faster and tighter, we could do really well as long as no-one panics.”


Lia Jackson raised over £300 alone to help Snipers reach their target

However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the new team, and uniforms do not come cheap for cheerleaders. To kick-start their sponsorship, one plucky parent completed a 10,000ft skydive just two weeks ago raising over £2300 to cover the costume costs of everyone in the squad.

There are other fundraising ideas coming up for Snipers, with bag-packing at their local stores and performing at events being the main options for new safety equipment and training facilities.


Lia caught in the act on the way down

If you would like to donate to their JustGiving page, please follow this link:

To hear more on the skydive story, click the link below for video footage:

Southampton’s Max Cater bids for Taekwondo gold in first European Games

MAX Cater has been called up to the Great Britain Taekwondo squad for the first European Games aged just 17.


Cater picking up his Gold Medal at the Swiss Open in March

The games held in Baku, Azerbaijan, will be a big test for New-Forest-based Cater, and a step up in character for the under 54 kilogram fighter, however, he has held his own against international opponents in recent years.

Not only has he won titles in the Swiss Open and Bosnian Open already this year, but is also the reigning Commonwealth gold medallist from 2014, proving that his place in Team GB is well deserved, and his move to Manchester to train with Great Britain’s elite has paid off.

The seven-strong team of athletes competing travelling to Baku also have the opportunity to gain valuable points at this event and challenge for Olympic qualification; a dream that Cater has been working towards from the age of five.

“My inspiration for Baku is to go out and perform my very best, hopefully bringing back a gold medal.

Jordon sparring with black belt teacher, Fallon

Jordon sparring with black belt teacher, Fallon

“It’s the first major event for me, and is a great achievement to be picked at 17. But I’m always looking to improve for Rio next year.”

However, Cater isn’t the only Southampton-based interest; Jordon James, who has been scouted by the Panther Taekwondo academy, competed for the first time on Sunday taking home bronze, and is tipped to be a star for the future.

James showing her strength against a black belt in warm up

James showing her strength against a black belt in warm up

James came third in her first competitive bout after only eight weeks of training in the sport, but believes her background in cheerleading and dance has helped her to adapt to the martial art.

“It’s not been hard to make the transition, because a lot of it comes from flexibility that I got from dance, but it is much more disciplined.”

For extended interviews with James’ coach, dad and herself, click the link below:

By Talia Jones

@TaliaSofia16 @SouthCoastSN

Chapter One – There’s nothing like a cosy hospital gown

Fresh Prince“Well this is a story all about how, my life got flipped, turned upside down” – The Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, explains this adventure perfectly!

So I’m a little late in writing this stupid story, but apparently I’ve been told it needs to be documented. Welcome to the most injury-prone person and her story about recovering!

10441024_10205130183636521_7271573235238543644_nAs some of you will know, I’m a cheerleader: (well, ex/retired cheerleader now… Had to hang up my cheer shoes and poms for good after this joyous exploit) actually, that’s partly how I ended up here!

Quick background for why I’m having shoulder surgery – about 3 years ago, whilst warming up at a competition, someone fell in a stunt from more than twice my height. She landed on my nose, then both of us landed on my shoulder. That’s about it.

images (11)Ended up competing twice before being sent to Manchester A&E with concussion and a broken nose. Overall, a pretty standard day… Since then though, rounds of physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, all the ‘therapies’ basically (even the Electro shock treatment was fun) led me back round in circles.

In hindsight, working on a checkout probably didn’t do me any favours when it came to Repetitive Strain Injury, especially now I know I tore all the cartilage in my left shoulder. I realise now that possibly wasn’t my best move.

So it was pretty surreal to get a phone call whilst sat in a KFC in Eastbourne (so us cheerleaders don’t always keep to a ‘healthy’ diet) on the Friday of a competition weekend, to come into hospital just 5 days later!

Stuck in Southampton General Hospital on a freezing cold Tuesday morning in November wasn’t exactly part of the plan. Neither was having to wear the most ill-fitting, tasteless and thinnest hospital gown known to man. The only place those gowns belong is in a fire because no-one would willingly want their ass on show to a ward full of people they’ve never met before.

imagesBV2J115RAnd yet, that’s where I found myself – the youngest person on the ward by about 30 years and surrounded by women wanting to tell me their whole life story. I could have been at university writing sports stories and videoing events, but no, I was in my own personal hell; the hospital version of Loose Women.


Post surgery selfie with the monkey mum bought!

The only joy was going down to the operating theatre and being knocked out by the anaesthetic! At least I had a bit of peace and quiet for a couple of hours. But of course, my dearest mother was by my side on the ward, so I sent her away to do the one thing that would take her mind off the operation – Christmas shopping. She’s like a machine!

Coming round after the surgery was hilarious – for the rest of the day, my whole arm was a dead weight. They’d given me a nerve blocker and couldn’t even hold anything in my hand. Turned out to be a bit of a problem going to the toilet though.

Despite being told I’d be in overnight, just 8 hours into my stay, I was happily discharged and flying as high as a kite on medication! This was clearly just the beginning of my recovery, I had no idea what was coming.

Honestly, I don’t think I prepared myself for it very well!

Southampton starlet dives to gold

Emily Martin - Rome13 year old, Emily Martin, defied gravity to become champion at the Southampton Invitational, despite competing against people over two years her senior.


Martin performing a pike somersault

Martin, who lives in Totton, won the 1m springboard competition in her first attempt in the next age category up, with a score of 132, before jetting off to Plymouth for a Great Britain training camp.

She breezed through the morning preliminaries at The Quays diving complex, securing her place in the top six divers in the 14-15 age category, and progressing to the final on Saturday afternoon.

Beating 22 competitors in the morning session, she shone in the finals with her three most complex dives to take the top step of the podium, impressing with her twisting and rotating skills learnt with the Southampton Diving Academy (SDA).

Gold Medal

With her gold medal

This isn’t the first event around the country where Martin has made a name for herself; in February this year, she was the most decorated diver for SDA in the Armada Cup, one of the toughest competitions in the diving calendar.

She came away with four medals in all four of her events that weekend (1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze) proving to her main rivals that she will be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.


Emily performing a tuck somersault

The junior elite diver was selected last year for the GB squad and represented England in Rome over the summer after consistently producing her best dives throughout the season.

Her efforts were rewarded in Italy with a bronze in the 10m platform event and a very credible 5th place in the 1m springboard, against all age categories up to 18.

This week’s training camp sees her mix with GB’s elite, and a chance to learn from the best.

To listen to interviews from Emily, her coach and her dad, click this link: