Ups and downs of rising to the challenge

Ups and downs of rising to the challenge

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Straddle, stretch, sit ... Karly Cox did them all under the expert guidance of coach Mandy Yeung.
Straddle, stretch, sit ... Karly Cox did them all under the expert guidance of coach Mandy Yeung.
Photos: Edward Wong/SCMP
This summer's London Olympics and Paralympics has inspired Young Post to try out some of the many sports, and we have been sharing our experiences. This week we see what Karly Cox goes bouncing around


When I was 12, my local sports centre in Britain held a summer camp where you could try different sports. I did (dry slope) skiing twice, abseiling twice and trampolining twice. (Hint: that was, well, far more than 10 years ago, and I was about 30cm shorter and many kilograms lighter ...) My far sportier little sister had gone on to take trampolining lessons and would talk me through what she'd learned each week, so I felt I'd learned it, too; I love bouncy castles, even now.

What's more, as my sister recently reminded me by posting a photo of it on Facebook, I received a BAGA Grade 5 certificate for gymnastics - of which trampolining forms a part at the Games - when I was eight.

So when I proposed to take on trampolining as a YP Olympic challenge, I thought I was getting away with the easy choice. Wrong!

I headed to a Lam Tin gym with my entourage (read: colleagues in need of a laugh on a grey Saturday afternoon), fully prepared to learn backflips and double front somersaults with 31/2 twists.

Surely bouncing up and down would be a cinch.

When we walked into the gym, I felt even more sure of my future success: the room was filled with children, the eldest of whom was probably 14. If a child can do this, I thought ...

And then the fear set in, as I realised I'd be training alongside them, and taking turns with them on the trampoline ... if I did fall flat on my face, I'd be the laughing stock.

Gymnastics coach Lau Man-yan started us off with some kiddy gymnastics to warm up. When I say "kiddy", I refer only to the age of the participants (OK, and size: I was twice as tall as most of them), rather than the skills required. My colleague Leon Lee offered to step in and warm up with me - for which I was truly grateful: it's strange enough being the only non-Asian in a room; it's a million times worse when you're so much less fit than all of them! Man-yan let us off the cartwheels and forward and backward rolls, luckily, but the bunny hops, leg extensions and planks were more than enough to get the pulse rate up.

After a strenuous stretching session, it was finally time to clamber onto the trampoline with coach Mandy Yeung Chi-man. The first thing she got me to do was jump up and down, something you'd think would be fairly simple. Yet, as they say, appearances can be deceiving.

It's important to point your toes as you jump up, but make sure they're parallel to the trampoline when you land. You also have to keep your feet together in mid-air, but it's easier to land with them slightly apart. Arms must be stretched high above the head, and you must make sure you look forward at all times.

However, when you're not sure if you'll land on the trampoline (and worry you could miss and take out a small child on your descent), it's hard to focus on these points, especially the looking forward part. Eventually, I sort of got into the swing of things, and Mandy decided I could take on the additional challenge of some positions.

We started with a tuck jump, which is when you jump up, raise your knees to your chest and hold them, then release, all before you land. Next came the pike, which is when you touch your toes in a sitting position in mid-air. Then I tried a straddle jump, which requires you to open your legs out to either side and touch your toes. Finally came the sitting jump, which you'd think would be easy (bounce up, sit down, bounce up), but required a lot of help from the coach. I nearly flew off the trampoline and hit the photographer!

Of course, my jumps were very much at a beginner level, and looked quite pathetic next to the young girls spinning and tumbling, and practically hitting the ceiling on the neighbouring mat.

Yet the sense of achievement on accomplishing each jump was phenomenal. Adrenaline rushed through my body, and I felt utterly athletic. Even though I didn't get very much actual jumping time, I was there long enough to appreciate what a demanding sport trampolining is, and feel confused as to why they don't get more air time on television.

You definitely have to be fit to trampoline. Four days later, my thighs and abs (Ha! Abs! Belly, anyway) were still screaming every time I took the stairs. But I'm not put off. If you see a fluffy-haired Postie bouncing up and down in a trampoline class one day, it could well be me ...


Want to bounce in Hong Kong?

The Gymnastics Association of Hong Kong, China
Room 1002, Olympic House, 1 Stadium Path, Causeway Bay
Telephone: 2504 8233
www.gahk.org.hk

Hong Kong Youth Sports Association
Flat D1, 2/F Lladro Building, 72 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Telephone: 2247 5252
www.hkysa.hk/index.htm

Multi-Sport - Hong Kong
8/F Yien Yieh Bank Western Building, 32-36 Des Voeux Road West, Hong Kong
Telephone: 2540 1257
www.multi-sport.com.hk

See what else we're doing this summer

- Sailing
- Equestrian
- Boxing
- Rowing
- Taekwondo
- Archery
- Rhythmic gymnastics
- BMX
- Handball

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