Laura Halford is fast becoming as big a ‘serial champion’ as her illustrious predecessor Frankie Jones in the world of British Rhythmic Gymnastics.
The 22-year-old made continued the Welsh domination of the British overall title in Telford on 22-24 June, 2018, as she won her fifth crown in the past six years to extend Welsh success in the showpiece event to 11 triumphs in the past 13 years.
Commonwealth Games gold medalist Jones won a record six titles between 2006-12 and now it is Halford who is moving towards her landmark. Fifth overall at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Halford was also crowned Clubs champion, took silver in the Hoop and Ribbon events and won bronze in the Ball competition.
There was further Welsh success with Halford’s Llanelli clubmate Gemma Frizelle finishing third overall in the individual event and winning gold in the Ball and bronze in Clubs, Hoop, and Ribbon.
“It feels amazing, even though it was a bit of a struggle. After the Commonwealth Games I had a holiday, so it was a bit of a rush to get ready for this competition. I’m happy that I managed to do it in the end,” admitted Halford.
The domination of the dynamic Welsh-duo of Jones and Halford is shown by the list of recent British all-round champions:
British Rhythmic Gymnastics Champions
2006 Francesca Jones
2007 Francesca Jones
2008 Francesca Fox
2009 Francesca Jones
2010 Francesca Jones
2011 Francesca Jones
2012 Francesca Jones
2013 Laura Halford
2014 Laura Halford
2015 Laura Halford
2016 Stephanie Sherlock
2017 Laura Halford
2018 Laura Halford
Halford needs one more title to tie with Jones’ record tally of six since the championships were first introduced in 1976. Her cv is starting to look more and more impressive and both she and Frizelle will be heading to the Bulgarian capital of Sophia for the World Championships in September:
Laura Halford Titles / Medals
2018 British all-around and clubs champion, ribbon and hoop silver, ball bronze
2018 Commonwealth Games (Team Wales) hoop silver, team and all-around 5th
2017 British all-around, hoop, clubs and ribbon champion, ball silver
2016 British ribbon and clubs champion, hoop and ball silver
2015 British all-around, hoop, clubs and ball champion, ribbon silver
2014 Commonwealth Games (Team Wales) team silver, all-around bronze and ball bronze
2014 British all-around champion
2013 British all-around champion
2011 Junior British all-around champion
Halford has now commanded the space at the top that was once filled by the inspirational Jones and the signs are there is plenty of Welsh talent following in her footsteps.
In the Junior All Around competition, Skyla Sims, representing Cardiff Central Youth Club, won the bronze medal with an overall score of 34.300 points. In the U12 age group the Llanelli duo of Elizabeth Popova and Emily Cullen won the gold and silver medals.
Elizabeth was not only crowned the British all around Champion, but also swept the gold medals in all apparatus competitions, followed by Emily in the silver medal position. There was also a clean-sweep in the Under 11 category for Welsh National Squad member Eirlys Jones, who won the individual title and all the apparatus crowns as well.
Grace Owen, from Llanelli, was crowned the British U10 all-round champion as well as Free Routine champion. She also struck silver in the Hoop and Rope events.
In the British Aerobics Championships, Rhys Williams brought his career to an end in fine style as he sent himself into early retirement with victory in the senior individual and Pairs events.