The first in a series of posts looking into Great Britain’s potential Worlds 2011 and London 2012 team. This weeks edition features a firm favourite of Full Twist, 19 year old Hannah Whelan, Britain’s current National Champion.
Hannah Whelan was born 1st July 1992 in Singapore. It was here that she spent the first two years of her life before moving to Stockport, Chesire in the UK with her family in 1994. As a result of cartwheeling around a supermarket, her mother took her to a gymnastics club, Central Manchester Gymnastics Club. She trained here until she was seven under Coach Helen Hall. At aged seven, Hannah’s family moved again, this time to the USA, where with the support of her parents, she kept up training.In Texas, she competed in the USA’s compulsory level system, achieving a top-twenty place at Texas State finals at the age of eight. She is one of the only gymnasts who has had a training session at the famous Karolyi Ranch!
Gymnastics runs in Whelan’s family, her mother Karen is a coach and judge, she took up coaching when she would drive Hannah to class and spent 4 hours waiting for her, it passed the time. Hannah’s sister Sophie also competed in gymnastics. The family returned to Britain in 2001. From then until 2005 Hannah trained under Helen Hall, Barry and Chris McLaughlin at a new club, Vernon Park Gymnastics Club. Success followed over the next 3 years under guidance of Barry & Helen, after a top-10 finish at Nationals Hannah was selected for World Class Start. At the 2005 British Espoir Championships Hannah was 4th overall and made 3 apparatus finals, unfortunately finishing just outside the medals on bars and floor. At this stage, Hannah’s true talent had emerged, as had the signs that she was destined to be selected to the British National Squad Team.
In 2005 Whelan moved to the City Of Liverpool Gymnastics Club. Here she was first coached by Sarah Attwell and continued to shine and show talent. After three Olympic trials she was selected to represent Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics alongside Beth Tweddle, Imogen Cairns, Marissa King, Becky Downie and Becky Wing. On this Hannah herself said:
“It feels fantastic to be selected and I’m really proud of myself. I can’t wait to be involved in such a big competition.”
Hannah was one of the youngest gymnasts competing in Beijing. The British team unfortunately finished with no medals but Hannah gained plenty of experience.
Hannah still trains at the City Of Liverpool Gymnastics Club with British team mates Jenni Pinches and Beth Tweddle. She is now trained by the renowned coach Amanda Reddin (also coach to Tweddle) and is assisted by Claire Duffy. In July this year, Hannah retained her title as British Champion for a second year in a row beating British team mates Jenni Pinches and Danusia Francis to the title. As well as training in Liverpool, Hannah attends University here, studying a Sports Development degree at John Moore University.
Hannah competed at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam with the British team. She placed 16th in the All Around competition, unfortunately she didn’t advance to any of the event finals. At the 2011 American Cup in March, she placed 8th overall in a tough competition including Russia’s Aliya Mustafina and America’s Jordyn Wieber. In Aprils Glasgow Cup Hannah placed 5th overall as well as coming first on floor with a score of 13.900. She looked very confident on home turf in England, a good sign for London next year. She also finished 13th All Around at this years European Championships. Since then Hannah has become a stronger, more confident gymnast and appears to advance and improve at each competition.
A look forward to 2012
As a consistent All Arounder, I would be extremely surprised if Hannah wasn’t named in the 2011 Worlds or 2012 Olympics team as she continues to show phenomenal skill on all four pieces of apparatus. Of course, this is providing that Great Britain’s women can qualify to win a place at London next year and that she continues to stay injury free. She is a strong vaulter, powerful tumbler and has beautiful lines on bars. Her choreography on floor is quirky and fun, her tumbling is excellent and her routines are entertaining. She is consistent, which really counts when picking a team for World Championships and the Olympics. We haven’t yet seen the best of Hannah, there is definitely more to come.
Over the last 10 years Hannah has achieved a lot. Below is a list of her achievements gathered from various sources including her official website. She is quoted as saying that her biggest disappointment in her career so far is placing last on beam at the 2011 European Championships in the apparatus finals.
- Senior English Champion, Floor Champion, Silver on beam and bars
- European Championships All around 13th; Beam 8th
- British Teams: Individual all around 1st
- British Champion, silver on bars and beam
- British Teams; individual all around 3rd
- Porto World Cup; bronze on floor
- British Champion, silver on beam, bronze on bars, bronze on floor
- World Championships Rotterdam; Team 7th, individual all around 16th
- Glasgow Grand Prix (World Cup); silver on beam
- European Championships Milan; 17th all around
- British Team Champions (City of Liverpool); individual all around champion
- Senior British Championships; 5th all around, silver on beam
- Welsh Open Champion, beam champion
- British Team champions (City of Liverpool)
- Senior British Championships; Bronze all around, beam champion, silver on floor
- Selected for Beijing; team 9th
- Junior British championships; 4th all around, silver on beam, bronze on floor
- European Youth Olympic Festival Belgrade; individual all around 4th place
- Junior British championships; 9th all around
- First GB international
- Espoir British championships; 4th place all around
- North West voluntary; level 2 champion
- National level 2; 10th all around
- Selected for national squad
- National age group finals level 3; North West team bronze
- 21st all around, Texas state finals (7-9 years age group)
Next week’s post in the “Meet The Gymnast” series will feature Imogen Cairns.
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