Gallery: Brazilian Olympians limber up at Pipers Vale gymnastics centre in Ipswich
SQUELS of delight from an enthralled gallery accompanied former world champion Daiane Dos Santos as she went through the routine she hopes will get her into an Olympic final.
At 29, the tiny Brazilian is on the old side for a world-class gymnast. But nine years after she won the world title at her speciality, the floor exercise, she remains her country’s best hope for a medal at London’s O2 Arena at the end of this month.
And while she and her team-mates go through their final pre-Olympic training, pupils from a number of local schools have been taking the opportunity to see them going through their paces in Ipswich.
The Brazilian women’s artistic gymnastics team have set up their Olympic training camp at the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre in Gainsborough. And eager youngsters from throughout the region, including from Heath, Murrayfield and The Oaks primary schools, have been invited to watch a number of their sessions.
Lisa Squirrell, a teacher at Maidstone Infants School in Felixstowe, had brought a party of 44 youngsters aged from four to seven to the centre.
“This is a great opportunity for them to see the gymnasts,” she said. “There have been lots of oohs and aahs and wows.
“The children are really excited about the Olympics. I run an Olympic assembly every Thursday. There have been projects and work schemes based on the Olympics.
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“And we have given certificates for children who keep to the Olympic values (respect, excellence and friendship).”
The Brazilian stars will continue with their training all next week, under the gaze of students from Northgate, Kesgrave, Claydon, Stoke and Farlingaye high schools as well as several more primary schools.
Linda Stopher, administration manager at Pipers Vale, said: “It’s a tremendous honour for the club to have the Brazilian gymnastic Olympic team training here.
“It gives the children something to aspire to at the very best level and will be very motivational for all our gymnasts.”
The Brazil squad hope their link with Ipswich will bring them luck at the Olympics.
They were based in the town before the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, where they finished fifth, their best ever international result.
In addition to Dos Santos, they have three competitors – Bruna Leal, Daniele Hypolito and Adrian Gomes – who have hopes of getting through to the finals on their respective apparatus.
n Are you proud an Olympic team has come to Ipswich to train?