Gifted gymnast Ellie leaps into national limelight with silver medal

Gymnast Ellie Belbin, 13, who enjoyed the biggest achievement of her career so far.
Gymnast Ellie Belbin, 13, who enjoyed the biggest achievement of her career so far.

The career of gifted, young gymnast Ellie Belbin, of Matlock, took a giant leap forward with success at a national competition.

Ellie, 13, won a silver medal at the UK finals of the NDP1 Women’s Artistic Gymnastics event at Stoke-on-Trent.

NDP1 stands for grade one (the highest) of the National Development Plan for promising youngsters, so the finals attracted the top 50 gymnasts in Ellie’s age group in the country. But her performances on all four pieces of apparatus, uneven bars, beam, vault and floor, earned her second place overall.

She was also helped by a personal-best score in separate range and conditioning exercises, which test the strength and flexibility of the gymnasts.

“It was the biggest achievement of Ellie’s career so far,” said proud mum Sarah. “She put in consistently good performances, and also helped the East Midlands team secure fourth place in a strongly contested battle.

“Her goal now is to win a place at the British Championships next March. To do that, she must get a high enough score at her next tournament to qualify for the British Challenge Cup in November, and then get an even better score there.”

Ellie lives with her mum, dad Dennis and 11-year-old sister Georgia in Matlock. She goes to Highfields School and is a member of the Amber Valley Gymnastics Academy, based at Pentrich, Ripley.

She first got into gymnastics as a seven-year-old, having fun doing handstands and cartwheels. It became more serious when head coach Jenny Clay took over the academy and hand-picked Ellie as a youngster with potential.

“What Jenny has done for Ellie and the club is phenomenal,” said Sarah. “Ellie has been a member of the East Midlands team for two years and now trains 24 to 26 hours a week.

“It is full-on and a huge commitment, but she would love to go as far as she can. The Olympics is a dream, but this is where dreams start.”