Sheila Jarman (88) has spoken of her sheer joy at watching her grandson Jake create English gymnastics history with his four gold medal haul at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Sheila has been watching and rewatching all of Jake’s coverage at home in what has been a special few days for the lady who first introduced Jake to gymnastics at the age of eight.
After spotting Jake’s abundance of energy, it was Sheila who decided to take him to learn gymnastics at Jack Hunt to give him a way to channel his creativity.
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By the time he was nine, coaches had spotted his talent and recommended he move over to the prestigious Huntingdon Gymnastics Club, where he still trains today; 11 years later.
It was Sheila that would drive Jake to the club, week in week out, owing to the busy work schedules of his parents.
‘Gymnastics has been his life’
Sheila said: “I’ve been watching every minute of the coverage on all the channels, then watching it back and have been screaming and shouting and making myself hoarse. It’s just really exciting and my phone hasn’t stopped.
"He was a very hyperactive child and I just thought he needed to do something with that energy. We took him to Jack Hunt but we were then told he was so good he had to go over to Huntingdon.
"He didn’t get much time at first but he was was also so enthusiastic but he always wanted to do thing and put extra elements into his routines. My first memories are of him are on the parallel bars, he was so cute.
"He was quite quiet in the car when I used to drive him, when he got older and got a phone he mostly used to look at that and I just let because that would be the only time he got to relax and really do that, gymnastics has been his life.”
The Gunthorpe-based gymnast had several career options open to him such as becoming a lawyer or even playing ice hockey after impressing the Peterborough Phantoms at a training session but he chose to follow his passion of gymnastics.
‘I’ve loved it all’
She added: “He’s such a clever boy and what he wanted to be always used to change. I even remember taking him to the ice rink. He’d never skated before but he was whizzing around, going through the legs of adults and the club said that wanted him. It was at that point, his mum told him he had to make a choice and he chose gymnastics.
“Gymnastics really has changed his life. His friends are his gym friends and I really like how they all support each other and are so happy for each other, even when they sometimes lose and they take it in their stride and put others before themselves.
"He’s a very quiet boy, doesn’t like to show off and I’ve never seen so many medals round his neck than at these games.
"I’ve loved it all and really got to know the other children around Jake at the club too. I remember one of the best moments was watching Louis Smith together in 2012 and now they’ve set up a gym in the TV to watch Jake and everyone has been engaged in watching him, which has been lovely.”