Spotlight on TeamGym

Spotlight of TeamGym on … Hema Gaur-Sharma (GBR)

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Spotlight of TeamGym on … Hema Gaur-Sharma (GBR)

July 2, 2015

In this series of three interviews we focus on the stars of TeamGym! Let’s get to know women’s All Star Hema!

UEG: Can you tell us something about yourself?

Gaur-Sharma: My name is Hema Gaur-Sharma and I’m 20 years old. I started TeamGym at the age of 11, and have trained and competed in the sport for 9 years. I am an only child from a multicultural family. My mother is French and my father is Indian. I’ve always lived in the UK, and am very proud to represent the GB Team. I have great respect for my heritage and cultures. Gymnastics has always been a sport I’ve had to work at; skills do not come naturally to me. However, I am able to overcome this with my determination and ‘never give up’ attitude. I may fall a hundred times, but with each fall I learn and try again. This makes my success in the sport even more gratifying.

UEG: How and when did you start TeamGym?

Gaur-Sharma: I stumbled across TeamGym accidently when I was 11 years old, in my small club, Portsmouth School of Gymnastics. Artistic was the main discipline, and TeamGym was just starting out. I was asked to fill in for another TeamGym gymnast who had been injured and couldn’t compete. I enjoyed the experience so much I decided to train in that discipline alongside Artistic. As time went on I began enjoying TeamGym more and more, and within a year, my training was solely focused on TeamGym.

UEG: What do you like most about it?

Gaur-Sharma: The most enjoyable part of this sport is the ‘family’ that develops with your teammates and coaches. I love training and competing with my team, watching every member grow within the sport, and also as an individual. I also love achieving new skills. Every new skill I learn is an accomplishment for the team and myself. The TeamGym family also extends outside the walls of Portsmouth School of Gymnastics, and I particularly enjoy the travelling and social events with my team and my coaches. It is this ‘family’ created by the nature of the sport that I enjoy most. My TeamGym family is one I will cherish forever.

UEG: What’s the most difficult thing?

Gaur-Sharma: Despite my enjoyment working in a team, I find the most difficult thing is when you mess up during a competition, or are having a bad day in training. You feel as though you’ve let your teammates down, as well as yourself. However, my team always pick me up. Even if I have a bad training day or a bad run, I know that the girls will be the ones to support me, as I would for them.

UEG: How would you explain TeamGym to people who don’t know it?

Gaur-Sharma: TeamGym involves three disciplines: Floor, tumble and trampet (mini-trampoline). There is minimum of 8 gymnasts in a team and a maximum of 12. The teams can be all men, all women, or an equal mix of men and women. What ever the number of gymnasts there are in a team, they must all perform the floor routine. On trampet and tumble the best 6 are selected and they must perform 3 runs on each and must demonstrate a style referred to as streaming. This is what makes it exciting. Streaming is like a run away train…. one gymnast after the other. Whilst one is performing their skills the next one is running down behind the one in front and starts her skills whilst the one in front is finishing her skills and getting out of the way for the next gymnast…. very exciting. The aim is to achieve the highest score possible on all three apparatus. Increasing the difficulty of the skills will increase the start value of the run. However the higher the skill value, the harder it is to perform. To achieve a high score the gymnasts need to perform high value skills that land with control and are performed with style. All the gymnasts participate in a synchronised floor routine, which includes dance movements and elements with difficulty value. In artistic gymnastics, the apparatuses used are bars, beam, rings, parallel bars, floor and vault etc and the skills are performed individually. This is not the same in TeamGym; the gymnasts must perform as a team, rather than an individual.

UEG: TeamGym is very popular in the Nordic countries. Is it popular in Great Britain? Have you seen an evolution in recent years?

Gaur-Sharma: TeamGym is not the best-known discipline in gymnastics within Great Britain. However, in my last 9 years in the sport, TeamGym has developed rapidly. The sport is becoming more popular and is expanding. I have seen more teams and clubs join this discipline, and British Gymnastics has provided more opportunity for coaching and has aided this growth.

UEG: Why should the public come and watch a TeamGym competition?

Gaur-Sharma: TeamGym is such a dynamic and exciting sport that involves so many gymnasts. In competition the atmosphere within the gym is electric, with complicated skills performed whilst streaming one after the other. It offers an amazing display of multiple somersaults and twists on the tumble track and off trampet, and a mesmerising display of choreography in a synchronised floor routine. The ambience is energetic, loud and powerful. There is continually something to feast your eyes on. Everyone comes together to perform a big show to entertain the audience, allowing gymnasts to show off their talents.

UEG: You are a member of the all-star team. What does that mean?

Gaur-Sharma: The all-star team comprises the top 6 male and top 6 female individual competitors from the European Championships held in Iceland at the end of last year. Despite my ‘good’ competition, I would never have imagined that I would be selected for such an elite team. The honour that came from being the only British representative, from probably one of the only remaining Club based Teams in Europe, and making my coaches proud, was truly incredible. I was overwhelmed with feelings of joy and excitement, knowing this was the biggest achievement I had ever had within this sport. GB is not yet as strong as the Scandinavian teams in the TeamGym world, and to be stood up on that stage with the ‘giants’ of TeamGym was something I will never forget.

UEG: How long do you want to continue in gymnastics?

Gaur-Sharma: Gymnastics will always be imbedded in my life, incorporated in my future either as a coach or within judging. Due to my passion for this sport I could never walk away from it entirely. It has been a big part of my life so far; I wouldn’t give it up now. I would one day like to be involved with developing National teams for GB.

UEG: How much time do you invest in TeamGym (training, competing, etc.)

Gaur-Sharma: I train approximately 12 hours a week, and also coach 12 hours per week, and consider the gym my second home. Gymnastics is incorporated in my everyday life, I compete roughly 3 times a year, as a gymnast and with my team, and I am continually preparing for the next event.

UEG: You recently passed your level 2 coaching. What’s the big difference between performing and coaching for you? Is it difficult to adapt?

Gaur-Sharma: I love coaching as much as being a gymnast. I have been part of a team for a long time, and that has helped me to develop as a coach, because you’re always helping one another, so coaching came more naturally to me. Being a coach and a gymnast go hand in hand, it helps, as you understand what the troubles are that the gymnasts are going through, as you have had similar experiences. The big difference in coaching is you have no control over the gymnasts in a competition… that is so much more stressful!

UEG: As a dancer what’s your opinion about choreography in TeamGym?

Gaur-Sharma: I think choreography in TeamGym is something completely different to dancing. As a dancer the focus is on facial expression and the movement of the body whereas in TeamGym, the floor routine is like a performance that shows off the skills performed together as a team. Choreography in TeamGym shows grace and style and empathises with the music, which contains slow and fast beats. In dance the routines are busier, and hectic containing a variety of speeds and changes in direction. I find the Nordic routines flow between shapes and elements making it look simple but so effective. I do appreciate the hard work that goes into creating a TeamGym floor.

UEG: Your coach told us you choreographed your first TeamGym floor routine. How do you feel about that?

Gaur-Sharma: I was so excited to choreograph my first TeamGym floor routine. It was a lot harder than I thought, as there’s so much to include in a TeamGym floor. However, I found it great fun to pick music understand and feel what the music is saying and portraying and then to construct the routine. Being a dancer did help me, as I could use my knowledge to be creative and inventive. We were delighted when my young team achieved a high floor score in their first competition. I enjoyed the full experience and I would love to have a team that follows the success I’ve achieved. My ultimate dream would be to choreograph a GB floor routine and have it performed at a European Championship.

UEG: What are your hobbies/ interests outside of gymnastics?

Gaur-Sharma: I love to spend time socialising with friends and family in my spare time. I have always been creative, so I love drawing and painting. Dancing has played a big part in growing up alongside gymnastics.

UEG: What do you do for a living? Is it easy to combine with TeamGym?

Gaur-Sharma: I have just completed my first year at Chichester University, studying Physical Education and sports coaching. I have always been keen on sports and keeping active, which makes me happy. Combining a high level elite sport and a ‘normal life’ has never been easy, but I always find a way to balance the two. I may have sacrificed things for TeamGym, but I have never regretted any decision I have ever made. I am lucky I have great friends and family that have supported me throughout my gymnastics career.

UEG: What are you most proud of in your life?

Gaur-Sharma: I am so lucky to have achieved as much as I have so far, from travelling the world, becoming a British champion so many times, representing my country in three European Championships and now becoming an all-star. The achievement I am most proud of however is being able to balance my life style and sporting/dance commitments. I am also proud of the fact that I am the first in my family to go to university. Having achieved all my goals so far, and achieved it with all my best friends, I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

Thank you so much Hema! All the best for the future!

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