Olympic Gymnast Imparts Knowledge to University Students

An Olympic gymnast has given students at the University of Worcester the benefit of his expertise in the sport and tips on how to teach it.

Kristian Thomas visited the University of Worcester to explain and demonstrate to PE & Dance students some of the most effective teaching techniques he has learnt in his 23 years of training, which could help them if they go on to teach PE.

The Olympic bronze medallist, who has recently announced his retirement from the sport, said he was keen to build on the higher profile that the sport has since the last two Olympics.

“It’s our duty to inspire people,” he said.

“Being retired allows me to do more workshops and go into more schools to try and raise the profile of the sport and get more people involved in gymnastics. But I can only reach so many.

“Teachers will be spending the most time with pupils so, if they have the right tools to approach gymnastics with and know more about the sport, where it can take you potentially and how much it can help you not just in gymnastics but in other sports, that can only be a good thing. The students have picked up at first hand tips not just for themselves but for when they’re teaching people as well.”

Kristian, 28, who lives in Cannock, was part of the five-man squad that won Great Britain's first men’s team medal for 100 years at London 2012.

He also won European golds in 2012 and 2015, a Commonwealth gold in 2014 and a World Championship silver in 2015.

He gave students tips on how to perform moves correctly and told them about the importance of building up strength through practising and mastering the more basic moves, like a handstand, before moving on to more difficult ones.

He helped them attempt a number of increasingly difficult vaults and gave a glimpse of some of the skills that helped him on his way to the elite level in the sport.

First and Second year students then quizzed Kristian on his life in gymnastics, including the hardest moment of his career, his proudest achievement, his regrets, his favourite places to compete and his future plans.

This was the first time Kristian, who is himself doing a strength and conditioning degree at another university, had given a workshop at university level.

Camilla Neale, who leads the Teaching Gymnastics & Dance in Secondary Education module, said: “So many people fear teaching gymnastics but here we like to encourage our students and what better way than by being inspired by an Olympian?

“Today’s session was a fantastic opportunity for students to gain a better insight into gymnastics. It allowed them to gain experience from an elite athlete not only showing how gymnastics should be performed but how gymnastics can be taught. Hopefully this experience will encourage them as teachers to inspire children they teach to take up this dynamic sport.”

Sports Coaching Science and Physical Education student Coral Rudge, 22, of Hereford, said: “It was a great experience to learn from someone who is so well known in the world of gymnastics.

“I learnt that there is a lot more to specific gymnastics movements than meets the eye and how learning correct technique and understanding correct technique is key for execution and delivery of the activities.”

Rachel Whitehouse, 20, of Gornal, Dudley, who is studying Mathematics with Physical Education, said: “I learnt how to execute a handstand properly and why it is important to make sure I get the basic foundations correct in order for me to progress.

“I will take forwards the little tips Kristian gave to us.”


Olympic Gymnast works with University Students

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