Katie’s worth her weight in platinum for Special Needs Gymnastics!

Katie Bowie-Hallam is deligthed to pose with her medal winning team matesAt 17 years of age Katie Bowie-Hallam has recently been appointed as the youngest Platinum Young Ambassador with Sport Pembrokeshire as reward for her yeoman work with gymnastics in our county as part of the Pembrokeshire Special Needs Gymnastics Club where Amy Yelland is head coach and can rely on total support from Katie.
Five new Platinum Ambassadors were recently appointed by Ben Field, Matthew Freeman and Co at Sport Pembrokeshire in County Hall, and although the minimum age requirement is 18 they sensibly decided that because of Katie's depth of experience her few months short of the age minimum was nothing in comparison.

Coaching at a very young age

 Katie Bowie-Hallam is all smilesBecause Katie has been involved in disability gymnastics since she was a nipper and supported her sister Gemma, one of the best-known gymnastics at the Pembrokeshire Special Needs' Club - and when she was only 12 her sister had the chance to join the Welsh Special Needs' Squad but needed an individual coach to accompany her.
Katie had no hesitation in accepting the challenge, having already spent many hours at the club, and underwent a whole-day course in Llanelli where they learned all about care in supporting the gymnasts and other basic factors, most of which she had already seen locally – and she passed with flying colours.
"It was a case of learning as I went on," Katie told us, "and Amy was always available to give advice as I found out all about how to help on the Beam, High and Low Bars, the Vault and Floor exercises."

Passed first coaching award at the minimum age

Then she had to wait until she was 16, the minimum age for Level One coaches, and the course she went on took place over three days where the basic techniques were revisited but Katie and Co had to learn about breaking down skills to their component parts, creating a routine, and leadership of a group - and this was followed by an assessment afterwards where she had to show she had taken on board all that was necessary.
Not content with that lot, Katie is now waiting to sit the Level Two Coaching Award which will qualify her to be coach of a club - and to that end she already coaches groups locally, under the watchful eye of Amy, across a whole range of ages and abilities.

Moved up to help Welsh squad

Katie must have done well so far because she now helps to coach the Welsh Disability Squad, which is coached alternate months at Cardiff and Milford Haven Leisure Centre, and was part of the coaching team then then went to the Special Olympics National Games in Sheffield.
“We took six local gymnasts as part of the Welsh squad that competed against England, Scotland and Ireland and the team came back with nine golds medals, ten silver and nine bronze as reward for all their hard work.
“My sister Gemma did really well with a gold, two silver, a bronze and a fourth place – and it was a hugely emotional event as we were with our group 24/7 and I was like a big sister to all of them, along with Amy and the other coaches.

Memorable moment

“It was a great event, with the national anthems being played beforehand and a closing ceremony at the Sheffield Ice Rink, which had been specially covered for the big day, totally being enjoyed by our gymnasts as they looked really smart in their Welsh kit.
“As well as the competition, held over four days, there was also another spin-off for our relatively young squad and that was in meeting so many other competitors from other countries and making new friends – and they enjoyed amazing support from family and friends who had made the long journey to support them!”

Also working hard at school and college

As well as her commitment to Special Needs Gymnastics, Katie is also kept very busy by her studies at Milford Haven Comprehensive School, where she is taking her A Level in Business Studies and the Welsh Baccalaureate, as well as an AS Level in PE at Pembrokeshire College.
She coaches squash in school each Thursday, having taken the Squash Leadership Course, using the pop-up nets that replace the typical squash back wall, and it goes without saying that on Mondays she has a good crowd of youngsters attend her gymnastics club.
Then there’s the four hours at the Special Needs Gymnastics Club on Thursday evenings, which Katie readily admits is her favourite time of the week!

Other sports

Katie has another string to her sporting bow in the fact that she is now a qualified netball referee and enjoys her involvement there – and she also played netball and a bit of hockey until her interest in coaching gymnastics took over and she also enjoyed street dance with Sean Griffiths as the coach of a group that took part on loads of competitions.
“It was great for fitness and we built up a real team spirit that I’ve tried to encourage in gymnastics – and although they differ in a lot of things they are certainly very alike in that area.”
Katie will discover whether she has been successful at gaining her level two qualification by the time she is 18 but it is good to report that her coaching ambitions do not end there because there are also levels three and four available at a later date.
“I know they will be an even greater challenge and one day I aim to achieve those when the time is right – and time is on my side,” she adds with a chuckle!

And finally . . .

It is this sort of enthusiasm and commitment that earned her selection as a platinum ambassador and Matthew Freeman told us,
“Katie is just what we are looking for to take part in our scheme because she is committed, willing to learn and pass on her knowledge to others – and we are delighted she is now part of our team.”
We could only agree and we wish Katie Bowie-Hallam much success in in her sporting future because she is such a helpful, modest and unassuming young lady in all that she does!