A pupil from Glyn School in Ewell could be on his way to following in particularly famous footsteps after his recent success at the British Gymnastics championships.
Jack Neill, 17, was crowned British U18 pommel horse champion, a title previously won by Olympic silver medallist Louis Smith, as well as finishing third on the parallel bars and fifth in the all-round competition.
Jack, who represents Ireland at international level, began training at Tolworth Gymnastics Club at the age of five. Supported by the Mary Peters Trust and GLL Sport Foundation, he has already competed at the 2012 European Championships and 2013 European Youth Olympics, and hopes to take part in this year’s World Championships in Glasgow.
Competing at such a level means he trains for more than 20 hours a week on top of his school studies - which only serves to make his achievement in securing an offer from Cambridge University to study engineering, which he hopes to do after taking a gap year to concentrate on his gymnastics, all the more impressive.
“Staff at Glyn have always been hugely supportive of my gymnastics and also provided academic support whenever I’ve needed it,” he explained. “Last summer I took three AS Levels when I was out in Bulgaria competing at the European Championships – the school made arrangements with the British Council for me to be able to do my exams when I was
there, and stayed in touch to check how the competition was going.
Glyn’s head of sixth form Joe Gale has watched Jack throughout his school career, and says his success is thoroughly deserved – and appreciated by his classmates. “Jack has a great work ethic,” he explained. “I was his biology teacher for two years and saw no sign of
the huge amounts of work he was putting in to his gymnastics, as his work was always done on time and to a high standard."
It was not just the teachers who were unaware of quite how much work he was doing. “Jack’s very humble and many of the other students were unaware of his success until we persuaded him to let us show one of his performance clips in assembly,” Mr Gale explained. “They revelled in the brilliance of one of their own year group and what he could do, and gave him a standing ovation at the end. The whole school is incredibly proud of him and what he’s achieved, and we can’t wait to see more.”
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