BLUE PETER TAKES ON THE GLASGOW WORLD GYMNASTICS CHALLENGE WITH 250 DAYS TO GO

There was some exciting news for young gymnastics fans today with confirmation that BBC’s

Blue Peter is teaming up with British Gymnastics and organisers of this year’s FIG World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow to bring viewers a very special sporting challenge for 2015. In the spirit of the Blue Peter Sport Badge which encourages children to get active and try new sports, Blue Peter presenter, Radzi Chinyanganya will be attempting to master one of world’s most challenging sports – gymnastics.

Starting from scratch, Radzi will be put through an aptitude test by Olympic silver medallist Louis Smith to see which gymnastic discipline he’s most suited to before preparing a routine which he will perform at the Championships in Glasgow in October. He’ll take centre stage at the SSE Hydro in front of an audience of 7000 and more than 500 of the best gymnasts in the world; can he pull off the performance of his life?

Marking 250 days to go to the start of the championships, Radzi and Louis, who is also an event ambassador, were at the city’s Glasgow Club Bellahouston Leisure Centre today, to get this ambitious project underway.  They were joined by young gymnasts from City of Glasgow Gymnastics Club who were on hand to demonstrate the different skills required on each of the six pieces of apparatus: pommel horse, vault, floor, parallel bar, rings and horizontal bar, as Louis put Radzi through his paces.

Louis Smith MBE said: “This is a really exciting project to be involved with and I have so much admiration for Radzi taking on this incredibly difficult challenge. Gymnastics is a great sport for boys and girls of all ages to take part in, but to get to the level required to compete at the World Championships takes years of dedication and hard work. I am sure Radzi can inspire even more children to give gymnastics a go and that they will follow his progress on Blue Peter with interest.”

Radzi quote: “I can’t wait to get started on the gymnastics challenge - I’m a huge sports fan. I watched every minute of BBC coverage of the Olympics including gymnastics and now I am getting the opportunity to do something I have never done before.

“I did a little bit of gymnastics when I was five as part of PE at school but never to this level and to get this chance to find out what my strengths may be and definitely my weaknesses are and then to get to perform in front of thousands of people at the World Championships in the Hydro is amazing. I have got seven months to prepare and I am going to need a lot of mental as well as physical preparation.”

Blue Peter viewers will have to wait until later in the year to find out which piece of apparatus Radzi excelled at and to follow his gripping journey to the World Championships.

Encouraging more children and young people across Scotland and the UK to get involved in gymnastics is one of the event’s key legacy objectives and organisers are delighted that BBC’s Blue Peter is lending its support. Just like Radzi, a number of young gymnasts from across the city will be perfecting their own routines over the coming months to perform in front of the crowds attending the 2015 World Championships as part of the pre-competition entertainment.

The FIG World Gymnastics Championships, which will take place at the SSE Hydro from 23rd October – 1st November this year and it is already promising to be one of the biggest single sport events ever staged in the UK.

The 10-day event will bring together more than 500 gymnasts from up to 80 nations all vying to be crowned 2015 world champion. Just to raise the stakes and test the gymnasts even further, the event will also play a key role in Olympic qualification, with the opportunity to secure places for Rio 2016.

The best gymnasts in the world will go head to head in team and individual all-around competitions as well as apparatus finals, in front of capacity crowds at Glasgow's iconic SSE Hydro - now rated the second best entertainment venue in the world.

The Championships are being delivered through a partnership between FIG, British Gymnastics and Glasgow Life on behalf of Glasgow City Council with significant support from EventScotland and UK Sport.

They form part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded major events programme to support athletes with their preparation and qualification for Rio 2016.

And with less than nine months to go until Radzi and the gymnasts take to the arena, organisers are focused on delivering the best ever World Championships for gymnasts and spectators alike.

 Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “We are determined to deliver the best ever World Gymnastics Championships by putting the athletes and spectators right at the heart of what will be an unforgettable event experience. But we want to go further and ensure that the event leaves a legacy for years to come. 

 “Sport can change lives. We know that only too well in Glasgow from our experience of hosting the best ever Commonwealth Games. So while the focus will rightly be on icons like Louis Smith it is fantastic to see him spend time with the next generation of medal winners from the City of Glasgow Gymnastics Club.  

 “Blue Peter’s involvement will bring the championships closer to our army of young fans and add another layer of fun. I wish Radzi all the very best for his challenge but with a teacher like Louis he will have no problem at all. No pressure!”  

 Jane Allen, British Gymnastics Chief Executive Officer, said: “The excitement is definitely growing as we get closer to what promises to be the greatest World Gymnastics Championships ever. Glasgow has repeatedly proved that it is a world class host of world class events and we can’t wait to welcome the best gymnasts on the planet to the SSE Hydro in October. The 2015 World Gymnastics Championships are hugely important for our gymnasts and we expect the home crowd to play a significant role in inspiring them all to excel as we look to secure places at the Olympic Games.”

 Simon Morton, Director of Major Events and International Relations at UK Sport, said: “The World Gymnastics Championships will give thousands of children the opportunity to witness world class sport first hand and also makes excellent use of a Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games venue.

“This fantastic partnership with Blue Peter will help spread the appeal of the championships and bring the sport to the attention of a whole new audience.

“Our major events programme gives people the opportunity to get behind our athletes and really support them as we enter this crucial period of preparation and qualification for Rio 2016”

For more information about the 2015 FIG World Gymnastics Championships or to book tickets go to:  www.2015worldgymnastics.com

To find out more about how you can get involved in gymnastics go to www.british-gymnastics.org or www.scottishgymnastics.org

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