Ipswich-based gymnast scores historic first at European Championships
- Credit: Charlotte Bond/Archant
Gymnast Adam Steele, who trains in Ipswich, is celebrating after reaching the Men's All Around Final in the European Championships in Artistic Gymnastics.
He made a piece of sporting history, as the first member of the Republic of Ireland team to get through to the final of the event, held in Basel, Switzerland.
"I was just so thrilled and proud to get through to the final. It was a great feeling," the 23-year-old said.
Adam, who is half-Irish via his dad, performed on six different pieces of apparatus - floor, pummel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bars, and finished in 21st place.
The talented gymnast trains for 30 hours at Ipswich Gymnastics Centre in Pipers Vale every week, making the journey there from his home in Harwich every day.
On top of his own training, he also works as a coach, training small groups of youngsters aged from five to seven - and is in the gym for around 50 hours a week altogether.
Adam said: "It was my third European Championships but it was obviously very different this year, because of Covid."
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However, although the competitors couldn't perform in front of the normal audience, he said the event still had a lot of atmosphere.
"I was impressed with the whole organisation of it all. All the gymnasts watched each other and spread out so it felt like an audience.
"It is a very friendly sport and everyone was supporting everyone else."
Adam has been involved in the sport all his life, starting off with classes at Colchester School of Gymnastics as a small child before moving on to Pipers Vale.
During the third coronavirus lockdown, head coach Will Banthorpe continued training Adam, who was one of three elite athletes who were able to carry on training at the Pipers Vale centre under a special licence from the government.
Will paid tribute to his dedication, saying: "He has maintained his focus and determination throughout this difficult time, including periods out of the gym and training from home.
"This obviously paid off, going to a European Championships and making that historic all-around final.
"Adam is inspirational to work with, and is a fantastic role model to his club and team-mates."
And Adam expressed his gratitude to Will, who works with him for those 30 hours of training each week and travelled to Basel with him in April.
He said: "It really is a major sacrifice for him to spend so much time training me.
"He has been a big influence on me and helped me to push through. I wouldn't have got to where I am without him."
Adam also said his family had encouraged him hugely, motivating him to carry on with gymnastics as a child when he might have been tempted to give up. "They are my greatest supporters."
He is now looking forward to competing for Ireland in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Japan in October.