BASILDON based gymnast Reiss Beckford has boosted his Olympic ambitions by deciding to compete for Jamaica.

The 22-year-old, who trains alongside superstar Max Whitlock at the South Essex Gymnastics Club, competed for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

But, in recent years, he has been named as first reserve for several major championships.

And he has now opted to compete for Jamaica, much to the delight of his coach Scott Hann.

“I think this is a fantastic and very exciting opportunity for Reiss and his career,” said Hann.

“Reiss has made many squads for Great Britain and England and this will allow him to compete at even more major events for far longer.

“In the last couple of years he had been number six or number seven gymnast in this country which is still a fantastic achievement.

“But Rio is a big ambition for Reiss and so too are the World Championships which he really does have a great chance of making now.”

Beckford qualifies for the switch through his Jamaican grandparents but the move has yet to be ratified by the International Gymnastics Federation.

Hann expects the change to soon be confirmed.

And he would love to see Beckford taking on Whitlock at the Rio Olympics next year, along with several other gymnasts from the South Essex Gymnastics Club.

“A real dream of mine is to get as many gymnasts as possible from the club at the same Olympics and we have a chance of that at Rio now,” said Hann.

“I’m sure Max will be there, Brinn Bevan has a great chance and so does Reiss now.

“Jay Thompson could potentially make the British squad and we have Anthony Wise knocking at the door as well so it could really be something special for us.

“We will continue to support and coach Reiss exactly the same way we do now and he will also still be able to compete in the British Championships which is good news.”