‘Breath-taking manoeuvres with a hand-held apparatus’

A combination of ballet, gymnastics, dance, and apparatus manipulation. That’s a definition of rhythmic gymnastics I found online. The Rio2016 website describes rhythmic gymnastics as competitors performing ‘finely choreographed routines incorporating hand-held apparatus in a bid to wow the judges, using the full area of the mat and breath-taking manoeuvres to try and achieve the best score’.

That ‘hand-held apparatus’ worried me. I know my way around a few hand-held appliances but have precious little experience with the apparatus of rhythmic gymnastics: ball, clubs, freehand, hoop, ribbon, rope.

I fancied having a go with the clubs but, when I asked Twitter and Facebook, the resounding vote was for the ribbon. It was like the EU Referendum all over again.

I wasn’t daunted. Not one bit.

Pound shop

I started looking for a club. Plenty of clubs teach rhythmic gymnastics to children and young people but I don’t fall into either group and had difficulty finding anyone who’d take me on.

In the end, Trace bought a ribbon attached to a plastic stick from a pound shop and I invited a couple of friends (Hello Caroline and Jo!) to join me in Mountsfield Park, near the venue for the Freyathlon modern pentathlon.

In the park, we discussed a few moves I might be able to achieve and I set off.

It wasn’t an Olympic-sized crowd (three people and one dog) and at least one of them fancied themselves as a director/choreographer. It’s fair to say the crowd were muted in their applause but unrestrained in their raucous laughter.

All you want to see is the evidence. So. Here I am, with a ribbon.



At a barbie two days later, some of the guests couldn’t wait to demonstrate their own ribbon skills.

If I ever get the chance to repeat the rhythmic gymnastics, I’ll be asking Shane for tips.

‘It’s all in the wrist,’ he said, showcasing a misspent youth and some impressive dexterity.


Rhythmic gymnastics. 21 July 2016

Mountsfield Park

TeamFreya: Caroline, Jo, Trace – walk-on appearance from Monty

Cost: £1 – for the ribbon