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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Somersault 'saved gymnast's life'
 Exeter Gymnastic Club
Steven Jehu is the star of Exeter Gymnastics Club
A young British gymnast somersaulted to save his life in a 33ft fall from a hotel window.

Steven Jehu, 17, from Exeter, plunged from the fourth floor of the M hotel, in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Sunday.

But his mid-air loop and gymnasts' landing meant he escaped with a just a broken ankle.

The doctor who operated on his ankle said the medal-winning athlete would have died if he had not put his gymnastic skills into practice.

Had he fallen on his head the consequences could have been tragic
GP's report
Martin Reddin, British Gymnastics men's coach, quoted the GP's report as saying: "Gymnastics has saved Steven's life - his co-ordination and gymnastics' training has obviously helped him to land on his feet and "get away" with a broken ankle.

"Had he fallen on his head the consequences could have been tragic."

Gave way

Jehu, a member of Exeter Gymnastics Club, had just returned from a training session with the British junior team, who were preparing for next week's European Gymnastics Championships in the Balkan city, when the drama happened.

He had opened a window next to a lift in the hotel and rested his hands on a safety bar which gave way, according to British Gymastics.

He then tried to grab a second bar, which also apparently collapsed, and the teenager fell.

The quick-thinking youngster did a somersault in mid air and braced himself for a regular gymnast's landing as he plunged to earth.

He hit a corrugated roof 10m below, suffering a broken ankle and a cut to his armpit.

Club 'elated'

Jehu, whose favourite discipline is the rings, was still recovering in hospital on Wednesday, but is able to walk on crutches.

He has been pulled out of the Championships, which start on 11 April.

The teenager, an A-level pupil at Exeter College, is likely to fly home on Friday.

Mike Euridge, coach at Exeter Gymnastics Club, told BBC News Online: "He is very fortunate to be alive.

"We were distraught when we heard what had happened to our star gymnast - he has spent five years working towards this.

"But we're elated that he is OK."





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