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Gymnastics heroes

Annika Reeder - England   Annika Reeder - England
Victoria 1994, Kuala Lumpur 1998

There's never been more excited anticipation for British gymnastics than there is at the moment. A new breed of gymnasts are coming through but even when things haven't been going so well, the talent of Annika Reeder has always stood out.

Gymnastics isn't a sport that lasts a long time; many top gymnasts only ever go to one Commonwealth Games. Annika Reeder managed two, and picked up gold medals in the floor discipline in both. We won't be seeing Annika compete at Manchester as she retired from international competition after the Sydney Olympics, but her legacy and success has helped the sport into the strongest position it's ever been in the UK.

Lori Strong - Canada   Lori Strong - Canada
Auckland 1990

Another athlete who scooped four gymnastics golds is Canadian Lori Strong, who took them home from New Zealand.

For most people that would be enough to get them remembered but Lori Strong has no less than two special moves named after her. The first - the Strong - is a unique move Lori submitted on the uneven bars. The second - the Lori hop - involves a move on the balance beam.

On top of this, she is perhaps best remembered for falling and fracturing her leg, refusing to quit and carrying on to finish her routine before doctors forced her to pull out of the competition on medical grounds. A true hero of Canadian sport.

Andrei Kravtsov - Australia   Andrei Kravtsov - Australia
Kuala Lumpur 1998

The Australian gymnastic hero picked up no less than four gold medals at Kuala Lumpur, winning the men's all round, the floor, the pommel horse, the floor and the parallel bars.

It was just reward for all his hard work after going through the trauma of snapping his right achilles tendon just weeks before the Atlanta Olympics, two years previously. However if Kravtsov thought his luck was changing he was wrong, he disastrously snapped the left achilles tendon shortly before the Sydney Olympics, where he was hotly tipped for success.

Curtis Hibbert - Canada
Auckland 1990

Four more golds came the way of Canada in Auckland. Curtis Hibbert, originally born in Jamaica in1966 before his family immigrated to Canada in 1972 started gymnastics at the age of nine.

The awards started to roll in when Curtis landed the Canadian Winter Games title in 1993 and from there onwards it was a steady stream up until his retirement in 1993.

Canadians still think that Hibbert's achievements may well never be matched and are happy in the knowledge that they produced one of the best ever-male gymnasts to come from the North American continent.

Neil Thomas - England   Neil Thomas - England
Auckland 1990

The most successful British gymnast to date. Winner of three Commonwealth golds spanning two Games, Thomas also added a world silver medal on the floor in 1993, 1994 as well as finishing 20th at the Barcelona Olympics.

Neil Thomas still is an inspiration to many young British gymnasts and he now works as a development officer in the north west of England.

He also pops up every now and then at exhibitions with his most recent appearance seeing him playing "Artistic Arthur" in a millennium gymnastics display.

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