FOR 17 year old gymnast Britney Campbell-Lawrence there is nothing she likes more than completing a tumbling routine that might include a round-off to start followed by five whips and a double back somersault, all with her eyes tightly closed!

The latter part of that stunning routine, delivered after a pacy run up, is not the way recommended by top coaches but it clearly works for Britney because she is already a multiple Welsh and UK champion.

It is great to report that she is not content with her own competitive instincts, total dedication and ability to deliver under intense pressure, however, because she also works closely at Haverfordwest Gymnastics Club with head coach Julie Thomas.

Her parents, Heidi Moseley and James Campbell-Lawrence have also been influential, and she would nominate sister Lauryn (16) as her biggest supporter.

Britney started out on her own gymnastics’ journey as a seven year old in Pembroke Dock Community School when Mrs Mears, her teacher.

It was good advice because Britney enrolled as a beginner but within weeks she was in the advanced class, doing the splits, back and front somersaults.

“I also quickly learned how to fall if I got something wrong,” said Britney, “and was encouraged from the start to go straight back for a second try, which was never more evident than a training evening for my tumbling when I attempted a double piked back somersault, went too high and landed on my neck!

“I had to stay in hospital overnight but the next evening I was back at the club - and nailed that same double-back!

“I entered my first competition as one of only three eight year old in a class that had 47 nine year olds and came second, which qualified me to compete in the National Novice Championships at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff under the watchful eye of coaches Rachel and Paul Hughes.

“Britney had to compete on the bars, beam, vault and floor- and she was thrilled to come first overall, the first of many Welsh titles gained until she was ten and decided she wanted to make a change and have tumbling as her main challenge.

“Since that time I have always been nervous before competitions start,” admitted Britney, “but once I step on to the start line and raise an arm to show I am ready all the nerves go.”

There are usually six judges who mark each routine with a tariff of bonus marks depending on difficulty.

“I am always trying to improve it, as well as polish what I attempt, and one of my ambitions is to become the first Welsh tumbler to successfully complete a triple back somersault in the tucked position and I am working at it with Dai Thomas at the Carmarthen School of Gymnastics.”

Ask Britney about other ambitions and one already achieved was to meet top Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle.

“I was lucky enough to be given free tickets for the London Olympics in 2012 from Phil Wattleworth, the head of Gymnova, who supply gymnastic equipment, but Britney didn’t realise that it included a surprise chat with Beth.

“I was lost for words as she breezed in, said ‘Hi Brit’ and asked for a hug - and she was so lovely I will never forget those magic moments as long as I live - and another ambition is to try and do as well as Beth Tweddle.”

To achieve her current levels of success it is clear that Britney has linked genuine skill with total commitment and to that end she trains up to 12 hours a week, plus conditioning as a vital added extra.

“We do speed drills and aim to build up stamina,” said Britney, “with specific focus on leg exercises to help develop the muscle needed to generate power - and after a short warm up that includes two round-offs up the track we do ten minutes where we aim for up to 30 runs that contain eight whips, as part of the serious training needed for consideration for the British Squad.”

Britney has already signalled her intent by coming third in the British Championships at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, where there was a huge crowd, where she soon conquered her nerves and had the crowd on their feet.

Her technique clearly works because she has already won nine Welsh titles, three of them on the trot as she has also won in international competitions against the best tumblers from England, Ireland, Scotland and Canada - and travelled to Spain and Portugal for special training with the British squad.

It is great to report that as well as her individual excellence Britney is totally committed to coaching at her Haverfordwest Gymnastics Club, along with head coach Julie Thomas, whom Britney regards almost as an extension of her own family, so close is their relationship.

“I help support others who lack a little confidence, or help get younger members from four to 15 over mental blocks as the difficulty increases.”

The pair was very busy in the recent sports activity day held under the auspices of Sport Pembrokeshire at The Dome in Tasker Milward School.

“We had children of both sexes wanting to try vaulting and other exercises and it was a non-stop afternoon where we enrolled lots of new members as a worthwhile result for the club.”

When she eventually managed to pause for a breather Julie Thomas told us: “Britney typifies all that is good in our club, not only as an active member and coach but someone who is competing at the highest level and is there as someone that others can aspire to.

“She has a lovely, bouncy personality and infectious enthusiasm and we are very proud of all that she does.”

We could pay Britney Campbell-Lawrence no higher tribute so we can only wish this modest and likeable young lady continued involvement and hopefully success at the highest levels of tumbling in the sport of gymnastics!