Emil Barber Aiming To Prove He’s A Cut Above The Rest At British Championships

By Carl Field

Emil Barber is looking to take the momentum gained from his performances at the Welsh Artistic Championships into the upcoming British Championships in Liverpool.

The 21-year-old Swansea artistic gymnast finished third in the men’s senior all-around event at the Welsh event in Cardiff at the end of last month, as well as retaining his Welsh titles on floor and vault. To cap the weekend, Barber also bagged bronze on parallel bars and the pommel horse.

Next up is the M&S Bank Arena, where he won silver on vault in the U18 British event in March 2018 – a month before he travelled to Australia’s Gold Coast with Team Wales as a men’s reserve for the Commonwealth Games.

The showpiece artistic event on the domestic calendar in Britain takes centre stage once again in Liverpool from 24th-27th March for the first time since 2019.

Covid-19 forced its cancellation in 2020 while last year, the men’s and women’s events were staged separately in Cardiff and Guildford, respectively.

And ahead of the event’s return home to Liverpool, Barber is certainly looking forward to it.

“Yeah, really happy with how the Welsh went,” he said.

“The main aim was to hit scores to qualify for the British and I went in knowing what I needed to do.

“I kept my head on, went out and did my job and managed to get a few qualification scores – and a couple of medals – so what was there not to be happy about, really?

“Now I go to the British and my aim there is to make finals and potentially walk away with a medal or two.

“I know the scores I can put out and the potential that I have to do that, I know it’s there, so I’ve got to go and do the same thing I did at the Welsh. And, if I do that, then there’s quite a high possibility of getting a medal.”

A good performance at the British Championships will certainly further boost his chances of selection for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Meanwhile another Welsh Commonwealth contender who will also be out to make his mark is Joe Cemlyn-Jones.

He is set to return having missed the Welsh Championships and then the subsequent English Championships in East London, where he was due to compete as a guest, in order to fully rest a hand injury.

At the 2021 Men’s British Championships, which were staged in Cardiff last September, Cemlyn-Jones achieved a personal best score of 81.697 as he finished second in the senior men’s all-around competition behind his City of Birmingham teammate Joshua Nathan.

It was one of four individual medals for Cemlyn-Jones at last year’s British, where he also took silver on both the rings and parallel bars while bagged bronze on the floor. His performances also helped the City of Birmingham club top the team rankings to become the proud owners of the illustrious Adams Shield.

His performances and scores hit in the all-around and across different apparatus at last year’s British as well as the Northern Europeans in Cardiff at the back end of last year have already put him a strong position selection wise ahead of Birmingham.

Ahead of this year’s British, Cemlyn-Jones said: “Having missed the English and Welsh, I’m really forward to getting back on the competition floor again in Liverpool and I’m excited to go and show what I can do.

“It was definitely the right decision and now having rested it, the hand is a lot better and I should be all good and ready to go.

“All-around is my speciality and I think from last year coming second in the all-around, I believe there’s podium potential for the all-around again and I want hit a PB and try and reach for that top spot.”

Also looking to impress once again in Liverpool will be Olympian Brinn Bevan, the reigning British champion on parallel bars from South Essex and who, memorably, walked away as British all-around champion in 2018.

Joining him will be Benji Eyre (Loughborough Students), who last month won the Welsh senior men’s all-around title for a second time, as will Heathrow’s Theo-Amari Ochana – who was second behind Eyre at the Welsh and was on the podium in the U18 all-around competition at the British last year.

There will also be plenty of Welsh interest in the younger men’s artistic age categories, including Alex Niscoveanu in the U16 all-around event, where he won silver last year.

Alex, who turns 16 next month, hails from Penarth and trains at South Essex. He was also the youngest member of the Wales men’s team who won gold at the Northern Europeans last November and is tipped for big things.

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