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From Gymnastics Captain to Team GB

Emergency Medicine Consultant Claire Emerson, Class of 1993, will be competing for Team GB at the International Masters Gymnastics World Cup for athletes aged 30 and over this summer.
Claire with her bronze medal at the British Championships 2023
Claire with her bronze medal at the British Championships 2023

Claire, who is mother of two children under 10, manages to fit the training in around her day job in A&E at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Her family will accompany her when she flies out to Boston in June to compete in the vault on behalf of Team GB, as well as competing individually in the uneven bars, the beam and the floor.

Claire has been a keen gymnast since she was a child, attending an external club, in addition to gymnastics lessons at LEH Junior School.  Shortly after she moved up to the Senior School, PE teacher Mrs Waters was appointed, and took the gymnastics offering up a notch by entering the School into lots of local competitions.  Claire was appointed Captain of the Gymnastics team in the Sixth Form.

“I was absolutely delighted to get a spot in the World Cup,” says the Olympic sports and rugby enthusiast. “I think it’s really important to be a good role model for my children.  I want them to know that it’s good to have a passion and to follow your dreams.”

Claire did a Masters in Sports Medicine while she was an Emergency Medicine Registrar and has worked extensively with the British gymnastics team, travelling as the team doctor to Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and China. She was one of the team of doctors and physiotherapists treating athletes at the 2012 Olympics in London. Since having children, Claire still covers the field of play at major tournaments such as the World Championships.

“I really enjoy competing,” she says. “I like the build-up, the adrenaline of taking part, the wearing of sparkly leotards, and that sense of relief when it’s all over! It’s cheesy to say it, but it’s the taking part that counts.  It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone.”

Claire explains that there’s been a sea change in perception of gymnastics over the last decade.  It just used to be viewed as a young person’s sport, but now there’s a growing interest in adult gymnastics and she has just attended the UK’s first adult training camp, held in Milton Keynes, for gymnasts aged from 25 to 70+.

“I don’t get to train as much as I’d like,” explains Claire, who is a member of the Heathrow Gymnastics Club. “But I usually manage a couple of sessions a week, as well as complementary yoga or conditioning workouts.”

She adds: “It is physically very demanding at the elite level and there’s now more recognition that it’s about the quality of the training, rather than the quantity. I do use a coach from time to time but there’s a lot of self-teaching and using YouTube videos.”

We’ll be sending lots of LEH boldness to Claire when she competes in Boston this summer, and we know that our alumnae will be cheering her on too. Good luck from all of us, Claire!

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