It was a landmark weekend for Newton-le-Willows' Hope Acro as two partnerships travelled to Stoke-on-Trent to compete in the British Championships.

After last year's success in the British NDP Grade Finals, the club were delighted to qualify two trios to take their place amongst the elite.

In the opening round of Balance routines, Mia Ellison, Madi Corless and Ava Earley were first up. Despite the pressure, they displayed nerves of steel to post a solid score. Their balances held firm throughout to place them in the middle of the pack.

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Holly Williams, Darcey Cassidy and Emma Green took to the floor next. After starting beautifully with their usual poise, an uncharacteristic error knocked them out of their rhythm and there was huge disappointment as the judges' scores left them languishing towards the bottom of the standings at the end of the round.

The second qualifying round of Dynamic routines followed, with the pressure on to make the top eight and advance to the final and fight for medals. Ellison, Corless and Earley once again brought their trademark energy and tempo to the floor and deservedly secured themselves a place in the final.

Williams, Cassidy and Green had a huge mountain to climb to overtake a number of rivals to book their own spot.

Dusting themselves down after the bitter setback earlier, they fought like tigers to claw back the deficit. A thrilling performance saw them post a score that gave them hope of progressing. Sadly, it proved not quite enough and they had to console themselves with a 9th place finish.

Ellison, Corless and Earley went on to the final where they would repeat their Balance routine of earlier.

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They put in a sterling effort, but couldn't quite hit the heights of the first round and ended the competition in 8th - a fantastic result in their first appearance at this level.

Despite some disappointments, both trios can hold their heads high. Amongst a field of national champions and winners of international competitions they looked completely at home.

Head coach Alison Ellison paid tribute to the gymnasts. "It was a tough day all round, but it was a great experience as well as character-building. We are immensely proud of every one of our gymnasts. They are true stars"

A second coach, Jeff Williams added: "Elite level sport is brutal, and today our gymnasts proved they deserve to be there, both through their performances and their resilience. They did the club and their parents proud."