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Thursday 29 October 2015
After eight months of physically and mentally demanding training, Blue Peter’s Radzi Chinyanganya took to the floor at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena last night and gave the performance of his life. He showcased his newly acquired gymnastics skills in front of the 6000-strong crowd and set the scene for the world’s top eight women’s teams to compete for the medals in the Team final of the FIG 2015 World Gymnastics Championships.
Invited by 2015 World Gymnastics Championships organisers and inspired by the thousands of Blue Peter fans who got their Sport badge 2015, Radzi decided he would try out a brand new sport for Children in Need. Radzi enlisted the help of Olympic silver medallist Louis Smith MBE, one of the Championship’s ambassadors and GB team member, to give him a quick introduction to the sport.
Louis put Radzi through his paces during a trip to Glasgow back in February this year where they visited The Hydro, the venue for the 10 day competition, and Glasgow Club Bellahouston where he saw and sought inspiration from the city’s top young gymnasts.
Following an aptitude test to assess which piece of apparatus he was most suited too, having a choice between pommel horse, vault, parallel bars, horizontal bar, floor or the rings, training began earlier this year.
Having discovered his technique was most suited to floor work, Radzi has been undergoing an intensive coaching programme supported by British Gymnastics coach Rob Payne at Loughborough University.
Although a keen sports fan who has had a top ten finish at the GB Skeleton Bobsleigh trials in 2011, Radzi started from scratch with the techniques and skills required by gymnasts.
He said: “I have really the upmost respect and realise just how incredible gymnasts are. Before I started the process I could do a forward roll and a backward roll. I thought I was relatively flexible but my coach has exposed me to as much as I could physically and mentally do. And, because of that, the feeling when you eventually ‘get it’, you get the manoeuvre, you land correctly – it’s the best!
“I’ve scored goals, scored tries, won tennis matches but none of it compares to executing and landing a front somersault. The euphoria, the adrenaline, the relief; it is the best feeling - like nothing else I’ve experienced.”
Talking about past eight months training Radzi explained: “I didn’t realise how long it would take to progress into any kind of move; how long it takes to develop. It’s really not just about technical execution or the elite performances amongst elite athletes, it’s about the mental side. It is phenomenal what they manage technically but overcoming your own inhibitions and fears to put together a routine that combines power, courage, strength, flexibility and grace is something else.”
During his training he was given a once over by a British Gymnastics strength and conditioning coach and was 'tested' for speed and power. He also had his diet looked at to make sure it was nutritionally sound and geared up for training.
After a warm welcome from the Glasgow crowd, Radzi started his routine with a front hand spring and front somersault, each seemingly landing with ease.
After just a slight wobble on attempting a tuck planche, Radzi steadied himself to deliver a flawless performance, completed with a second successful somersault.
After supervising Radzi’s startling progress over matter of months, his coach, Rob Payne, added: “I am a very proud man. Radzi has worked extremely hard, considering he has come in with no gymnastic experience whatsoever.
“He is very busy man with his job but the hours that we’ve worked together have been quality. He has given it 100% in training. I couldn’t have asked for any more. He has not done his routine as well as that in training before, so, like a true competitor, he pulled it out of the bag when he needed to. Now we can celebrate, job done!”
Blue Peter viewers can follow Radzi’s journey from beginner to skilled performer on Blue Peter over three episodes from Thursday 29 October, with his fantastic final routine being showcased on 12 November on Blue Peter’s Children in Need show. More information can be found on http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/shows/blue-peter