To represent your country is often considered to be the pinnacle of what can be achieved in sport, to have the national anthem sung while wearing the red, white and blue on the leotard.
For 14-year-old Ondine Achampong, of the Hemel Hempstead-based Sapphire Gymnastics club, that dream has become a reality after being selected to be part of the Great Britain gymnastics women’s team.
Achampong was determined to make 2018 her year, having finished 2017 as the Espoir British Champion.
With hard work and commitment she upgraded her routines and polished her execution to go on to win medals at both the British and English Championships.
And with the British national coaches clearly impressed by her performances, the teenager has now been selected to represent Britain on one of the biggest stages in international gymnastics, the European Championships.
Part of a five-woman squad, she will be competing against Europe’s best, including Italy and Russia.
Having recently finished third as a team in the finals of an international event in Italy, they feel confident on what can be achieved in the upcoming Euro Champs.
Training Achampong from pre-school age, Sapphire coach Mel Bunyan is one of the country’s top coaches. With Bunyan’s expert guidance, Achampong has won multiple championships at national level for the last five years.
They have spent the last few weeks working hard at the national training centre in Lilleshall, Shropshire, alongside the other British gymnasts selected, as they perfect their routines.
Sapphire Gymnastics said how proud they are of Achampong and Bunyan for what they have achieved and can’t wait to watch the European Championships from this Friday, August 3.
The event is taking place at the Hydro Arena in Glasgow with plenty of Olympic, World and Commonwealth champions due to take part.
Joining Achampong in the British women’s team are Halle Hilton, Pheobe Jakubczyk, Amelie Morgan and Annie Young.
Another star on show with Hemel links will be double Olympic champion and ex-Sapphire member Max Whitlock, who will be returning to the scene of his first world title.