4:00pm Wednesday 25th July 2012
FIRST swimmers from Japan splashed down in Basildon , now the Canadian Olympic gymnastics team have tumbled into town with a legend in their ranks.
Basildon’s Sporting Village has welcomed more international guests as the squad of 11 elite athletes from Canada arrived to train in the state-of-the-art facilities.
The team, preparing in the home of the South Essex Gymnastics Centre, will head for the Olympic Village in Stratford tomorrow.
The athletes have been training under the watchful eyes of Yelena Davydova, 50, who took gold at her home Olympics in Moscow in 1980.
She is also credited as the first female gymnast to do a side somersault on the beam.
In her era, she faced the likes of fellow Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut and Romanian champion Nadia Comaneci. Just like Comaneci, Davydova was one of the first gymnasts to receive a “perfect 10” for her floor routine at the 1980 Games.
After emigrating to Canada, she set up her own gymnastics centre and is now a lead coach for the national team.
Speaking at the £38million Sporting Village yesterday Davydova, said: “ We have enjoyed our time in Basildon. The facilities are great and it is so quiet, which is just what the girls need to focus ahead of all the excitement. We have felt very at home here.
“Winning gold in my own country was the best experience of my life. To win a medal at the Olympics is fantastic but to do it knowing the whole country is supporting you is a great feeling, and something I am sure the British team will get to experience in London The Canadian gymnasts – who include medal hopefuls Kristina Vaculik and Dominique Pegg – are perfecting their routines under the same roof as the Japanese Olympic swimmers, who are pusing the Sporting Village’s 50m pool.
Dominique, 18, said: “We’ve been busy training, but have squeezed in a visit to the mall and to the movies at the Festival Leisure Park . Everyone has been really welcoming. Being here really has helped keep us calm before things get crazy and we go to the Olympic Village.’’ Both the Japanese and the Canadians are staying at the Holiday Inn at the Festival Leisure Park, while they train.
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