Great Britain’s vaulters picked up a host of top 10 finishes at the FEI European Championships in Aachen (20-23 August).
The individual female vaulters performed their final freestyle routine yesterday (Sunday 23 August) and Team GBR’s Hannah Eccles (pictured, above) and Lucy Phillips finished in eighth and ninth place respectively.
Hannah on WH Bentley, lunged by her father John, were first into the arena and scored 7.976, taking her final average from all four rounds to 7.577.
“It’s really scary in there,” said Hannah. “I really wanted to qualify for the final round so I held it back the other day [in the first freestyle round] and played it safe.”
She added her father was happy as his favourite move – a one legged stand side-on move called ‘the wineglass’ – worked in the final.
“It’s a really hard move and not many people do it so it sets you apart from the rest,” she said.
Following Hannah was fellow Brit Lucy Phillips on Pitucelli, lunged by Lucy’s mother Liz.
“The atmosphere just makes you want to perform more,” said Lucy following her test.
The judges awarded Lucy a score of 7.614, which gave her a final mark of 7.510.
Gold went to Simone Jäiser of Switzerland, Germany’s Corinna Knauf took silver with Lisa Wild from Austria in bronze.
In the final squad vaulting class, also held yesterday (Sunday 23 August),
Great Britain’s squad of six aboard Tylers Kernel produced one of their best rounds this year.
Their mark of 7.387 gave them a final score of 6.755, which took them into ninth place.
The squad was made up of Andrew McLachlan, Hannah Young, Rebecca Norval, Kerri Brylka, Harry Cox and Lisa Mercer.
They were lunged by John Eccles.
Kerri, who was the flyer for the team, said: “It’s really fun being up there – you get the wind in your hair and everyone’s looking at you.”
Germany’s vaulters added to their medal haul, taking team gold, with Switzerland in silver and France in Bronze.
On Saturday (22 August), past junior medallists Andrew and Rebecca completed the final round of the pas de deux event.
Their total final score of 5.757 left them in ninth place.
Gold and bronze medals were taken by Austria with Germany in silver.
Andrew also came 13th in the male individual competition, where all three podium places went to Germany, on a final score of 6.691.
Vaulting team chef d’equipe Ann Rogerson said: “It’s just been great. The organisation here in Aachen has been amazing, the venue is outstanding and the team has done so well.
“For a lot of the squad this is their first senior championships and I’m so happy and so proud of them all, I’m really, really happy.”
This was the first European Championships since 2007 that British vaulters have come home without a medal.
In 2009, Great Britain won its first European vaulting medal when Joanne Eccles won individual gold in Malmö, Sweden.
She has won a senior championship medal every year since then.
However Joanne, who is Britain’s most successful female vaulter ever, revealed in February that she would no longer compete at major individual championships.