JOE Harris has a spring in his step after winning his way through to national trampoline galas.

The 12-year-old pupil from King John School in Thundersley took first place on the podium at the Eastern Regional championships at Brentwood and will now take part in events around the country.

And the Year 8 student is hoping to qualify for the national championships which will be held in July at Birmingham.

His coach Graham Parker, from Brentwood Tramploning Club, has high hopes that the 12-year-old will make the grade.

“Joe is on track and we are very proud of Joe and how hard he has worked,” Parker said.

“You have to be pretty sharp to pass a grade and then learn a new routine and be comfortable to perform it at the next grading, which may only be a few months later.

“He will be doing his first national competition in Bath later this month. There are five national competitions and if he can score enough points he will qualify for the national finals.”

Joe started at a recreational club in Southend but coaches realised he was showing so much promise that they recommended him to Parker after only a few months.

Now, 15 months later, he has successfully completed his four regional gradings to progress to national galas.

Parker said each of the gradings have a minimum score which must be achieved before moving on to the next grade and he would expect athletes to take two to three years to make it to national galas.

“It’s not rare but if you are showing very good promise at national level you will do the grades quite quickly,” the coach added. “There’s only four grading competitions a year and they get progressively more difficult.

“Maybe six others in the region in the last three years have gone through the gradings in that time, which is not many when you consider there will be 400 to 500 people competiting at each grading.”

Joe was put on a training and conditioning regime with the club and currently trains five to six times a week at Brentwood School sports centre and the Basildon Sporting Village.

The youngster, who will celebrate his 13th birthday next month, will get his first taste of national competition at the Sports Training Village in Bath on February 18 and 19.

He will perform a 10-bounce set routine followed by a 10-bounce voluntary programme where the aim is to combine difficulty in a routine that Joe looks comfortable performing.

Parker expects a score of 51 points will be enough for Joe to secure a place at the National Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on July 7 and 8.

“So far Joe has won every regional grading competition, where he has qualified to the next level and scored emphatically and now, hopefully, he can carry on his run of success through the national galas,” said Joe’s dad Lee.

“We are very proud of Joe’s achievements and goals in his sport.”

And Roxi Sheern, King John’s Year “This is such a huge achievement for Joe and we are all really proud of him.”