OLYMPIC hero Kristian Thomas believes the next generation of Earls gymnasts can shine on the international stage.
Thomas helped put the Furnace Lane club, where he has trained since the age of five, on the map when he helped Britain to an historic bronze medal in the team event at London 2012.
Speaking on his return during a civic reception on Tuesday, the 23-year-old said he believes the foundations are in place for continued success in years to come with a number of the club’s younger stars looking to make their mark.
He said: “It’s not just me who has been successful.
“We have some great gymnasts coming through the ranks.
“We have a good facility here with the right coaches — it’s something we can really build on.
“It’s fantastic how we have consistently produced international quality gymnasts over the last 10 years or so.”
Ryan Bradley, who is now part of Thomas’ coaching team, was the first Earls gymnast to make a mark as part of the British team which won bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Up-and-coming stars include Dominick Cunningham, who was part of England’s victorious squad in last year’s Youth Commonwealth Games, while Harry Caulwell, Donell Osborne, Kia Yin Ho and Phillip Harrison all compete in international squads at their age level.
Club chairman Jon Caulwell added: “Kristian would be the first to admit the younger guys coming through are even better and the next level below that better still.
“In total we have six gymnasts involved in the British team set-up and all hope to compete for the senior side.”
Thomas himself will now take a month off to relax and reflect on his achievements. But he will soon be back in the gym preparing for December’s Glasgow World Cup, which takes place in the venue which will be used in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.