Meet the Fylde coast rhythmic gymnast representing Team England at the Commonwealth games in Birmingham

A 19 year old gymnast is competing at the Commonwealth Games, after keeping her selection for Team England a secret from family.

By Lucinda Herbert
Monday, 1st August 2022, 3:48 pm
Updated Monday, 1st August 2022, 4:10 pm

Alice Leaper, from Freckleton said it was her ‘dream come true’ to compete at the event in Birmingham.

"I’ve wanted this since forever, and the fact it’s a home games will be even more exciting.”

Alice said it really hit home when she attended the opening ceremony, on Thursday, with her family watching her.

Alice Leaper represents Team England at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

She added: “It felt magical to think I’m a part of Team England. I got to walk out and had the whole crowd cheering us on. There was so much team spirit.”

On Thursday 4 August 2022 she will perform four routines, each one lasting 90 seconds.

Each routine uses a different apparatus - hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon.

She will compete in subdivision one at 12 noon.

Alice Leaper represents Team England at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

“I’ve been repeating the same routines around twenty times a day, for around a year. Training days can be long but each day makes you stronger so you just have to get through it.”

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Alice has been training at the Fylde Coast Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy since she was five, and her coach Ana Blackburn has supported her every step of the way.

When she was 13 she started doing trials to get into GBR Squad and England Squad, and coach Ana helped her to reach her potential.

"I’ve been lucky to have a lot of support from my coach, and also my family. Mum was always taxi driver taking me to competitions, and my college changed my timetable so that I could get home early to attend practise.”

She left Cardinal Newman College, Preston in 2021 and has taken a gap year to focus on gymnastics before heading off to university to study Sports and Exercise Science.

In 2018, Alice became England and British Junior All-Around Champion and competed at her first international competition representing Great Britain.

She moved into seniors in 2019 and became Senior English Champion and won gold and two bronze medals at the British Championships.

Alice was then selected for more internationals, including the World Challenge Cups in Guadalajara, Spain, and in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where she competed against the best gymnasts in the world.