Classic Challenge

Ashley79

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Hi! New parent here! Have been reading about the changes to the challenge cup and was wondering where we could find more information on the skills that will be needed for the bronze, silver and gold aspects of the new classic challenge? Or are they just not out yet?
 

gymmagic

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Confused about the Classic Challenge and Fig Challenge.

So is the Classic Challenge a competition based on ability rather than age for non compulsory gymnasts that allows gymnasts to compete at a championship based on their abilities, but no one is able to qualify for the Fig Championship and no chance to compete at the British Championships ?
 

Jenny

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Confused about the Classic Challenge and Fig Challenge.

So is the Classic Challenge a competition based on ability rather than age for non compulsory gymnasts that allows gymnasts to compete at a championship based on their abilities, but no one is able to qualify for the Fig Championship and no chance to compete at the British Championships ?
The Classic Challenge is a national championship for non compulsory gymnasts at Bronze, Silver and Gold level. The FIG Challenge Cup is a qualification competition for the British open to compulsory and non compulsory gymnasts and is full Fig. The two are separate competitions and you can only enter one each year. I don't think either has an upper age limit only a minimum age. There will be regional qualifiers to reach the Classic Challenge Championship.

So if your aim is to reach the British you do the Fig Challenge, if your aim is to compete in a national final you enter the Classic Challenge. I am sure it will all become a lot clearer in the Autumn, it seems like it will be really good.
 
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GymBeamRisky

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I think a “secondary” national challenge is a very positive move for those considered “not ready” for the main FIG challenge.However I do have some reservations, the main one being that the open upper age limit at bronze and silver might lead to some clubs “game playing” in the quest for representation in the National finals.

However should this approach be taken it might spectacularly backfire if many others have the same thing in mind. Due to the lower age entry we are no doubt going to see far higher entries in our regions at the bronze level than at the silver and particularly gold levels.

Personally I am not a great fan of an open age approach at children’s sport. I cannot think of any other sport that does this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine if a younger child is good enough to compete at a higher level with the older ones but doing it the other way round doesn’t sit right with me.

I would have much preferred to have seen a classic challenge competition with age bands similar to espoir ,junior and senior in place . Call it bronze,silver,gold if you will . The minimum standard for entry should be set at bronze level for each of the three age groups making it fully inclusive for all who are capable and thus ensuring that nobody is excluded due to age or ability. Of course at the silver and gold completions bonus points could and should be allowed for additional skills that the more advanced girls are able to perform.

I acknowledge that what I have suggested will need a certain amount of “fine tuning” and I am sure that people will find holes in what I have said but I’m a little fed up with the non compulsory girls seemingly becoming more and more marginalised and their competitions put into the “one formula suits all”. By that I mean it appears this new “classic challenge “ is basically following the same pattern as the national grades in that subject to a lower age threshold at each grade there is no upper age limit. Indeed it would appear that the new “classic challenge “ has a format totally in common with the grades compared to the Challenge cup which has historically been both individual and age focused as opposed to team and open age focussed.In essence what we have is a rehashed version of the national grades except that it’s an open competition.

BG say “The underlying principle of the Classic Challenge is for competition based on ABILITY rather than AGE. The Classic Challenge is about inclusion, a level playing field, fair play philosophies, and is pro-choice”.

But why does it have to be one or the other? Why cannot it not be based on ABILITY and AGE with inclusion ? Where is the level playing field if older more advanced gymnasts decide to drop down a level or two to improve their chance of a national final appearance?

Yes the Classic Challenge is a great idea, it just needs a classical rethink !
 

rd7

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I really like the new Classic structure, I understand what you are saying about the national finals but I don't think entering older girls in a level below their ability will be a huge problem (although it will happen). In our region the younger girls are usually the top scorers as they are the ones that have just missed out on compulsories. Also the national qualifiers will only be a small percentage of the total gymnasts that have taken part at each level. I assume that the regional comps will still have age groups for medals.

This structure is giving gymnasts a chance to compete at national finals that they otherwise wouldn't have had. The grades system is not suitable for all as the skills are compulsory. The new challenge system gives much more scope for skills and can be adapted to the strengths and weaknesses of the gymnasts.

I'm sure there will be problems but so far I'm very much in favour.
 
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GymBeamRisky

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I agree that the principle behind the classic challenge is a good one. However I still see no reason why it could not be tweaked a little so we have different age bands that still ensure full inclusiveness for girls of all ages that have reached the minimum bronze entry standard. Seeing a deserving 10 year old who relative to age may miss out on a national final to a girl more advanced and years her senior by a fraction of a point seems inherently unfair to me and as far from a “level playing field” as I can imagine.

With the national grades and out of age gymnasts there is at least some built in security in that you cannot go back and compete in a grade you have already passed so the likelihood of meeting a much older advanced gymnast at grades 1 to 4 is extremely low.

Due to the minimum age requirements of 12 and 14 years at regional level I do not think the numbers of entrants will be very high at silver and particularly for gold. There is a huge drop out at age 12 years plus as many of the girls reach their puberty years. If some game playing goes on which I am sure in some instances it will then further reduce numbers.By way of example , in my region the number of gymnasts of any age still competing at national grade 1 is often down to single figures or barely above and we are one of the bigger membership and participation areas.

In relation to keeping the girls in their respective age bands we should also not forget that it is not always the gymnast performing the higher difficulty level that always qualifies due to the increased chance of errors . Sometimes the girls performing the slightly less difficult skills to a high standard will prevail and gain a place in the finals ahead their more advanced peers.

I still see no reason not to have the girls in age bands with the provision that for all competitions the minimum bronze standard is doable. This WILL help ensure a respectable number of entrants at the higher bands.

Regarding your point about the younger girls who have just missed out on compulsories being the top scorers I would expect the vast majority of these girls would be of the ability to enter the new individual FIG challenge rather than the team based classic challenge.
 

Jules

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I think it’s a really positive move and adds another valuable competition route. I also like that they’re removing the in age/ out of age for compulsories. It really is time the narrative changes from ‘you’re done by early mid teens‘ as more ‘older’ athletes are competing (you‘ve got to love Chelsie Memel). Maybe less pressure to get the kids competing nationally at an early age will prevent burnout and enable them to stay longer in the sport.
 

Ashley79

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I think it’s a really positive move and adds another valuable competition route. I also like that they’re removing the in age/ out of age for compulsories. It really is time the narrative changes from ‘you’re done by early mid teens‘ as more ‘older’ athletes are competing (you‘ve got to love Chelsie Memel). Maybe less pressure to get the kids competing nationally at an early age will prevent burnout and enable them to stay longer in the sport.
I think this is very important going forward. So many sports now have shifted away from ‘you have to be young to be good’ and it’s really helped keep athletes in the sport. For example, swimming in the 80’s and 90’s was very much a young persons sport. Not many athletes above the age of 20 were competing at a high level and certainly not over 25. Now mid 20’s is optimum and it means the swimmers have so much more time to reach their potential. I’m sure there are reasons, but to me I can’t see why past a certain age you are prevented from competing compulsorys. If you can do the skills, should it really matter at what age you get them?
 

Jenny

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I think a “secondary” national challenge is a very positive move for those considered “not ready” for the main FIG challenge.
Not wanting to pick you apart personally for this but I think it is a general misconception that every gymnast can reach full fig criteria given enough hours, good coaching, equipment, expertise, etc etc and years of time. Not every gymnast can achieve a single bar release on bars and double backs on floor no matter what is thrown at them, there is a ceiling for every 'body' and 'mind' just like not every sprinter can achieve a 10 second 100 m despite the best coaching, hours etc etc. That is not to say that every gymnast can't be pushed, challenged and supported towards their goals (and even beyond them). But it's not a case of simply being 'not ready' now and you will be in the future.

For most gymnasts reaching the National Classic Challenge is a worthy pinnacle of their career. The Fig challenge British Qualifier comp should be seen as a very separate and distinct competition. I think they should have named it something completely different without the word challenge in it. Just call it the British Open Qualifier or something. It is good that there is cross over between the 2 built in though.

However I did have the same thoughts as you about the open upper age limits and no age banding. I think Bronze level particularly will be stacked with older gymnasts deliberately by some clubs. I think 2 or 3 age bands would be better (espoir, junior and senior would work as you suggest). I think what they are trying to do is remove the 'kudos' attached to winning at a younger age by removing age groups all together. Hoping that this will reduce the pressure on younger gymnasts. Unfortunately I think this will turn the tables and disengage the younger ones who will feel they have no chance.

Whatever system you put in place those so inclined will 'code *****'. Think multiple wolf turns on beam at world level. Yuck. At regional level we all know clubs who 'hold kids back to win' 'do 20 hours for level 5' 'take kids out of school 3 times a week to win' 'use the easiest skills to fulfil requirements' etc etc etc. And someone is always adversely affected at the wrong end of it.

I think we are just going to have to see how it works the first couple of years and hope that they add ages bands to bronze at least. With any system there is the 'intended' way it is supposed to work and then there is the 'hmm how can I can make this work for me' way it actually works.
 

GymBeamRisky

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Hi Jenny,

In the spirit of BG statement , “ This category must not be deemed to be “lesser” or of a “lower class”, and coaches, judges, gymnasts and parents are discouraged from framing it that way”, I was simply being rather politically correct with my words in order not to upset anybody by using the more blunt , “not good enough “. Oh dear now I’ve gone and said it anyway :)

That being said a gymnast might currently not “be ready” due to a bad year with injuries or due to months of lockdown.I know of at least 2 girls who competed in the 2019 challenge cup finishing in very respectable positions who this time around will be doing the classic challenge for those very reasons but hopefully with another year or so of uninterrupted hard work both will be back competing at the Fig Challenge next year, at least that will be their medium term goal.

Then there will also be a few girls who may be “nearly ready” whose coaches decide it would be better to wait another year. There are always a small number of late developers in British Gymnastics who seem to appear from nowhere. So of course I am a realist and know in common with most sports the majority will never attain top level but I also know there will always be at least some gymnasts in any particular year that are “not ready” for various reasons who might be “ very ready” the following year.

Have to agree with everything you have said regarding the young ones disengaging. I think they are likely to lose some of their competitive edge, might even feel a little demoralising for a few. I know that even if an under performing U15 football team was allowed to play in my U11 league when I was a kid I would have felt pretty demoralised, the younger me saying to my dad , “it’s not fair” comes to mind.

The classic will be the pinnacle of the current gymnastic journey for most. Since you are not trying to qualify for anything else I think the temptation for some of the older ones in the quest for medals might be to take the bronze option . I really think that at the regional competitions the bronze level is going to be very heavily subscribed compared to silver and gold. Gold might even be struggling to make up the numbers leaving it possibly ( subject to skills attained) a “thinking gymnasts” choice when assessing the possibility of a national final place.
 
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Learning Parent GB

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I have to say a different name would have made it a lot clearer when talking to other gym parents!
Covid has certainly made decisions for this year tricky. Do you 'drop down' to the classic challenge for a year or still aim for the FIG Challenge qualifier and hope for a good day?
 

Jenny

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I have to say a different name would have made it a lot clearer when talking to other gym parents!
Covid has certainly made decisions for this year tricky. Do you 'drop down' to the classic challenge for a year or still aim for the FIG Challenge qualifier and hope for a good day?
It's not really a case of dropping down. It's the same competition as was in the past. Those who want to try and qualify for the British will do the FIG challenge and those who want to compete at a national competition will do the Classic Challenge. Most coaches and gymnasts know if they have any hope of reaching the qualification score on a good day. If you are never scoring more than 44 in FIG in region there isn't much point rocking up to FIG Challenge and trying to pull a 46 or whatever out of the bag. It is hard to qualify this way. Much easier IMHO to qualify through compulsory grades. Not sure why people don't just do that.
 

Jenny

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Hi Jenny,

In the spirit of BG statement , “ This category must not be deemed to be “lesser” or of a “lower class”, and coaches, judges, gymnasts and parents are discouraged from framing it that way”, I was simply being rather politically correct with my words in order not to upset anybody by using the more blunt , “not good enough “. Oh dear now I’ve gone and said it anyway :)

That being said a gymnast might currently not “be ready” due to a bad year with injuries or due to months of lockdown.I know of at least 2 girls who competed in the 2019 challenge cup finishing in very respectable positions who this time around will be doing the classic challenge for those very reasons but hopefully with another year or so of uninterrupted hard work both will be back competing at the Fig Challenge next year, at least that will be their medium term goal.

Then there will also be a few girls who may be “nearly ready” whose coaches decide it would be better to wait another year. There are always a small number of late developers in British Gymnastics who seem to appear from nowhere. So of course I am a realist and know in common with most sports the majority will never attain top level but I also know there will always be at least some gymnasts in any particular year that are “not ready” for various reasons who might be “ very ready” the following year.

Have to agree with everything you have said regarding the young ones disengaging. I think they are likely to lose some of their competitive edge, might even feel a little demoralising for a few. I know that even if an under performing U15 football team was allowed to play in my U11 league when I was a kid I would have felt pretty demoralised, the younger me saying to my dad , “it’s not fair” comes to mind.

The classic will be the pinnacle of the current gymnastic journey for most. Since you are not trying to qualify for anything else I think the temptation for some of the older ones in the quest for medals might be to take the bronze option . I really think that at the regional competitions the bronze level is going to be very heavily subscribed compared to silver and gold. Gold might even be struggling to make up the numbers leaving it possibly ( subject to skills attained) a “thinking gymnasts” choice when assessing the possibility of a national final place.
Totally agree about Bronze ending up huuuuuuge. Maybe they will have a manditory move up score to Silver?
 

Learning Parent GB

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It's not really a case of dropping down. It's the same competition as was in the past. Those who want to try and qualify for the British will do the FIG challenge and those who want to compete at a national competition will do the Classic Challenge. Most coaches and gymnasts know if they have any hope of reaching the qualification score on a good day. If you are never scoring more than 44 in FIG in region there isn't much point rocking up to FIG Challenge and trying to pull a 46 or whatever out of the bag. It is hard to qualify this way. Much easier IMHO to qualify through compulsory grades. Not sure why people don't just do that.
Interesting. Most people I speak to see Classic Challenge as a new competition and the FIG Challenge being the same one as it was in the past. Hence girls who were at that standard pre-covid possibly seeing it as dropping down. In reality I presume the focus will be on 2022 for those gymnasts and what they do this year will all be practice for that.
 

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