A teenager whose dedication to his sport sees him travel from his home in Rainford to Wakefield four times a week is preparing for his biggest change yet.
Promising gymnast Jacob Kelly is set to represent Great Britain at the World Age Championships in Sophia, Bulgaria, next month.
The year nine Rainford High pupil has been tumbling for over three years, having started gymnastics when he was eight years old.
Jacob’s dedication to the sport sees him train at Wakefield Gymnastics Club four times a week and is coached by Craig Lowther, who has produced Senior and Junior World Champions.
Last year, the 13-year-old Rainford resident represented Great Britain for the first time at the 2016 Loulé Cup in Portugal and finished fifth.
He was then selected for the World Age Podium 13-14 Squad last year and attended training weekends at Lillieshall National Sports Centre, Shropshire.
The main focus of the squad was to prepare for trial which was held in conjunction with the British Championships, held in September at the Echo Arena, Liverpool.
Following the British Championships, Jacob was chosen for the Great Britain Team, who will be taking part in the World Age Championships in Bulgaria. The event will take place on 16-19 November.
Jacob said: “When I was 10 I had to choose between gymnastics or tumbling which was a really hard decision. In the end I picked tumbling because being on the floor was what I loved most and could see myself really developing in this sport.
“I’m so pleased and excited to be representing Great Britain at the World Age Championship next month. I’m quite nervous but my intense training programme is keeping me focused and hopefully this will see me through
Jacob added: “My overall goal is to be a world champion and it would be amazing to achieve this when I am older.”
Ian Young, principal of Rainford High, said: “Jacob is an excellent sportsman who is showing great potential in tumbling.
“He gives up a lot of his free time outside of school to concentrate on this passion and his commitment is commendable. Jacob has received a lot of support from the AJ Bell Trust Arts and Sports Awards that the school runs in partnership with the AJ Bell Trust for students of outstanding ability in the Arts and Sport.
“We wish him all the very best for next month.”
Jacob’s mum and dad, Janette and Chris Kelly, added: “We are all very proud of Jacob as he has come so far and works extremely hard.
“It’s a great sport to be involved in as it gives him focus and a desire to do well.
“The backing he receives from his school friends, family and the local community really is encouraging and I know it means a lot to him.
“The support he got from AJ Bell last year was tremendous and helped towards the competition and kit costs. Local business, Hoyles Electronic Developments has now pledged to fund Jacob’s training camp at Lillieshall National Sports Centre in preparation for the World Championships. We are all very grateful.”
As Tumbling is not yet an Olympic Sport, everything is fully self-funded by the gymnasts and their families. Sponsorships are often needed at this level and any businesses or individuals wishing to help Jacob achieve his dream of one day becoming a world champion, should get in touch with his parents on firstname.lastname@example.org