Gymnasts in jeopardy

PUBLISHED: 04:24 27 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:39 24 May 2010

THE secretary of a well-known Burnham acrobatics team says the careers of international gymnasts could be in danger thanks to Somerset County Council. Sue Merrett, whose husband Tony is the head coach for Monarchs, says because the county council has take

THE secretary of a well-known Burnham acrobatics team says the careers of international gymnasts could be in danger thanks to Somerset County Council.Sue Merrett, whose husband Tony is the head coach for Monarchs, says because the county council has taken over the running of King Alfred Sports Centre the cost to train there has gone up three-fold.Mrs Merrett said: "We are worried international gymnasts will lose out and won't be able to practice properly."Somerset haven't put the fees up by much but they are stopping our loyalty discount. The managers at the sports centre has been very helpful but we are looking to Somerset County Council for some support."Mrs Merrett says the group has been forced to look for an alternative place to train but are struggling to find anywhere with the correct facilities.The gymnasts need a full-length tumble mat which is 25metres long on which to practice floor techniques for competitions but they are few and far between in the area.Monarchs has been running for 25 years and future Olympians come from as far as Dorset to train with the club. Youngsters have been training at King Alfred Sports Centre since the club first got off the ground.Only recently 13 budding gymnasts at Monarchs won medals in the South West Regional Tumbling Competition.A Somerset County Council spokesman said: "There was more revenue funding available when the district council was running the centre. We now have to be more realistic about the prices."There is a pricing structure across all sites and the gym club will get a discount if they block book."We have told the club there may be money available to help them through Sport England and we'll help them with that. If we hadn't taken on the centre it may no longer be open for community use.

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