By Carl Field
A trio of Welsh gymnasts bidding to reach the Commonwealth Games this summer have all been named in the Great Britain women’s artistic senior squad for 2022.
Jea Maracha, Mali Morgan and Poppy Stickler are in the 15-strong British women’s senior squad.
It follows the Cardiff trio’s performances at the Artistic British Championships in Liverpool at the end of last month – in what is their debut year as senior gymnasts.
Corpus Christi High School pupil Maracha, 16, placed ninth in the senior women’s all-around competition, just in front of Clwb Cymru Caerdydd teammates Mali Morgan and Whitchurch High School pupil Poppy Stickler, who were 10th and 11th respectively.
Stickler, 15, also won a bronze medal in the floor final while Maracha and Morgan, 15, qualified for the balance beam final.
The trio are among eight Clwb Cymru Caerdydd gymnasts in total who have been selected for British squads.
Ruby Evans and Evie Flage-Donovan are in the 2022 Women’s Artistic Junior Squad.
Last month Evans secured back-to-back British junior all-around titles, while she also grabbed gold in the uneven bars final as well as a silver medal on vault.
There was also a stunning gold on beam for Flage-Donovan, who finished sixth in the junior all-around competition and has been rewarded with her first British junior squad call-up.
Meanwhile, Ellie Lewis, Jemima Taylor and Ffion Burgum and have all been named in the 2022 Women’s artistic aspire squad.
Lewis led a magnificent Clwb Cymru Caerdydd 1-2-3 in the espoir all-around competition last month to land her first British title, with teammates Taylor and Burgum taking silver and bronze respectively.
All eight gymnasts train at Sport Wales National Centre under the guidance of the national coaches.
On congratulating the gymnasts on a fantastic achievement, women’s artistic Welsh national coach Tracey Skirton-Davies also paid tribute to the coaches in the community who had also contributed to their success.
The eight gymnasts’ original clubs include Phoenix, Capital, Cardiff Olympic, Cardiff Central Youth Club, City of Newport, Fusion and Pen-y-Bont.
She said: “After two years of no squad selections due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is a testament to the girls’ resilience and parents’ commitment for them to achieve such great results at the British Championships.
“A big thank you to their coaches in the community for supporting the centralised system.
“Without them and the important part they play in the gymnasts’ journey, such great results would not have been achieved.”
Full squad info here: Women’s Artistic – British Gymnastics (british-gymnastics.org)
The women’s artistic selections follow on from the men’s artistic and rhythmic British squad announcements that were made either side of the new year.
Joe Cemlyn-Jones (City of Birmingham) – a firm contender for the Commonwealth Games this summer – is in the men’s TOP senior squad while Alex Niscoveanu (South Essex) is in the TOP junior squad and YMCA Barry’s Jamie Tran in the foundation squad.
The Rhythmic senior squad includes Gemma Frizelle and Elizabeth Popova.
Frizelle – who was part of Team Wales at the last Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast four years ago – is gunning for a second Games, while first year senior Popova is also in contention to secure a spot for Birmingham this summer.
Imogen Coslett is in the rhythmic espoir squad with Grace Woods in the rhythmic foundation squad.
All four rhythmic gymnasts are attached to Llanelli Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy.