THE SOUTHAMPTON Club have been celebrating national recognition for the first time in over five years.

Three of the club's gymnasts have recently been selected to represent Great Britain at Sports Acrobatics at the European Championships next month.

Hayley Buckman, Hannah Pompa and Senga Howells will travel to Zielona Gora, Poland for the competition, which is being held from November 3-10.

Coach Mike Walker hailed the success, saying: "It's a terrific achievement for the girls.

"It's also wonderful for the club. In the past we have had World and European medal winners but, although we've had a junior international pair, this is a major step forward for the club."

Sports Acrobatics is a combination of dance and acrobatics. Competitors are judged on their acrobatic balances and choreography as well as the synchronisation of their movement.

Hayley, a sales assistant, and Hannah, a student at Chichester University, both 21, have been working with Senga, 15 and a pupil at Hounsdown School, for two years.

Hayley and Hannah are both experienced 'bases' and were introduced to 'flyer' or 'top' Senga with the intention of creating the best group possible.

That initial aim has now paid off as the trio, who came third in the British Championships in May, have now been asked to compete for Great Britain.

Walker believes the success is even more remarkable considering the facilities that have been available to the gymnasts.

He added: "Our base at the Deanery Sports Hall in Chapel Road opened in 1979 and, at the time, put us ahead of the game.

"However, the facilities are now poor and we have fallen behind over the years.

"Because we have to share the Deanery, this group have had to travel to Portsmouth, Andover and even London to train, which makes what they have done even more amazing."