A pair of students are limbering up to compete on the international stage this summer in their respective sports of gymnastics and baton twirling.
North-east gymnastics champion Ross Soutar (19) will compete in the Pegasus Open – one of the largest UK competitions featuring national and international level men's and women's artistic gymnasts – at Maidstone Leisure Centre on Saturday 18 June.
Laura Petrie (23), who comes from Strathmiglo in Fife, will take part in the UK Open on 11 and 12 June at Linwood Sports Complex in Paisley, before going on to compete in the European Baton Twirling Championship, taking place in Turin, Italy, from 3 to 11 July.
Ross, who comes from Parkhill Avenue, Dyce, will tackle five pieces of apparatus in the Pegasus Open - floor, pommels, rings, vault and parallel bars. The first year Applied Sport and Exercise student aims to beat his performance in last year’s Open, having come third in the floor.
This will be the third major event he has taken part in this year. In February’s Scottish Championships he finished in third place overall, taking first position on the pommels, rings and parallel bars, and second on floor and vault in the apparatus finals.
In the London Open at the beginning of March, he only competed on three pieces due to an ankle injury. He finished 25th on pommels and parallel bars, competing against the British Olympic Team and Dutch National squads.
Ross said: “I was reasonably pleased with the results at the London Open given that I have a couple of years to keep improving, and also that I train half the time that full time gymnasts do.
“I’m really looking forward to the Pegasus Open as I have new moves to put into my routines to improve my scores from the London Open. I’m keeping a firm eye on the 2014 Commonwealth Games and am working hard to accelerate my improvement as I get closer to qualifying scores for it.”
Laura, who is currently studying for her Diploma of Legal Practice and stays at Market Street, Aberdeen, has twirled since the age of 3, advancing through the sport to claim her current position of Scottish Champion.
She most recently competed in the British Open at the end of May in the individual freestyle and team events, placing second overall. She will now take part in the UK Open this weekend – an annual competition open to athletes from throughout the nation including Ireland – where she will compete in individual and team events including solo, two baton, freestyle and team.
Beyond that, Laura aims to at least maintain her position at the European Championships in July, having placed highest of all British athletes last year, ranking seventh over all.
Concerning her performance in the British Open last month, she said: “It was frustrating to come so close to first position but I'll have my chance again at the UK Open this weekend. I’m really looking forward to the European Championships next month which will give me a chance to challenge myself once again among my international peers.”
Speaking about her chosen sport, Laura went on to say: “The aspect that I enjoy most is that Twirling is such a creative, exciting and unknown sport. It combines dance, strength and gymnastics along with mastering baton skills, making it a highly demanding and skilled sport.”
Both Ross and Laura train regularly at the university’s RGU: SPORT facility at the Garthdee campus. Ross splits his time between there and The Beacon Centre in Bucksburn. He is also supported by the RGU: SPORT scholarship which provides him with a package of tailor-made programmes devised to support his needs, sports discipline and academic course requirements. While not a sport scholar, Laura receives full access to the university’s facilities free of charge.
Sports Programme Manager at RGU: SPORT, Neil Brown, said: “Laura and Ross show the calibre of student athlete that RGU: SPORT caters for. They are both dedicated and train extremely hard so deserve to be up at the top competing with the country’s best and we wish them every success in the upcoming competitions.”
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