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Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Wednesday, 19 October 2011 16:05 UK

GB coach admits Olympic concern over rhythmic gymnastics

British team at the 2010 Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Moscow
Britain aim to qualify in the group event for the first time at London 2012

Great Britain's senior rhythmic gymnastics group coach Sarah Binding says she has concerns for her team as they push to qualify for London 2012.

A British team has never competed at the Olympics in the group event, which sees five gymnasts competing at the same time and exchanging apparatus.

"We're struggling and following in the shadow of artistic gymnastics," London-born Binding told BBC London 94.9.

"It's a huge journey, but we are trying to make history as a group," she added.

Binding is coaching seven self-funded gymnasts who have all moved to Bath to train together to try to achieve qualification for the Olympics in 2012.

It's got music, it's got drama, it's got excitement, it's just spectacular
Sarah Binding

"We don't get any funding at all unfortunately," she explained. "Basically the funding is ring-fenced for medal potential, so the likes of Beth [Tweddle] and Louis [Smith].

"We're working very hard at the moment to try to find some sponsors, but apart from that, it comes out of the parents' pockets, so it's quite an expensive journey, as well as a tough one, at the moment," she continued.

Binding's group face a difficult task to clinch their place for 2012 and have to qualify through internal British gymnastics selection policies.

"If we make a certain score, we then have to go to the test event for rhythmic [gymnastics] which is in London in January.

"If we manage to get there, we then have to meet a higher score again to actually get to the Olympics," she explained.

"It's proving a huge journey and a tough ride for everybody, but we're working hard and we're really hopeful we will achieve the scores set out in front of us," Binding said.

Amongst the group are Frankie Fox and Lynne Hutchison, who were part of the team that won England's first ever rhythmic gymnastics medal when they took bronze in the team event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Five-time British champion Frankie Jones, who won an individual silver medal at Delhi, is already set to participate at London 2012 after finishing as the top British competitor at the 2011 World Championships in Montpellier.

But despite the recent successes, Binding says the sport, which is still growing in the UK, struggles for recognition during a buoyant period for GB artistic gymnastics.

"It's quite a newly-developed sport in Britain at the moment, especially with group, it's very under-developed, so we're trying to create a new pathway for gymnasts in this country," she said.

Group rhythmic gymnastics was included in the Olympics for the first time in Atlanta in 1996, when Spain beat Bulgaria and Russia
Ribbons used in rhythmic gymnastics must be at least 6m long
Only women compete in rhythmic gymnastics

"We are always seen as the second sport unfortunately and of course because Beth [Tweddle] and Louis [Smith] have done so well in artistic, which is great for the whole of gymnastics, it causes us the second problem because all of the kids want to do what they do."

Rhythmic gymnastics was one of the first events to sell out when Olympic tickets went on sale earlier this year, and Binding is keen to build on the interest.

"Group rhythmic gymnastics is one of the most spectacular gymnastic disciplines because it's got music, it's got drama, it's got excitement, it's just spectacular.

"If we have a British team there it should just do wonders for us and really help the sport to develop and move forward and hopefully we'll be able to qualify again in the future," she said.

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see also
Gymnast Jones qualifies for 2012
23 Sep 11 |  London 2012
GB earn rhythmic gymnastic spots
12 May 11 |  Gymnastics
GB women take best Worlds result
12 Oct 11 |  Gymnastics
Gymnastics results
23 Aug 05 |  Gymnastics
Gymnastics on the BBC
05 Oct 11 |  Gymnastics
Get involved in gymnastics
23 Sep 10 |  Gymnastics

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