Interview Edward Upcott / Douglas Fordyce18/07/2010
After the retirement of his partner Mark Fyson in 2009, 18 year old British acrobatic gymnast Edward Upcott teamed up with Douglas Fordyce (20) to build the country’s new number one Men’s Pair.
With good results from last year’s European Championships (Silver – 84.526 pts.) in Vila do Conde (POR), and a Bronze at the World Games, the Pair has high hopes for a medal at the 2010 World Championships in Wroclaw (POL) this July. Edward and Douglas both train with head coach Neil Griffiths at the Spelthorne Elite Gymnastics Club, “The home of champions”, located in central Ashford, south-east of London.
Edward, at the 2008 World Championships in Glasgow (GBR) you won the Bronze with your former duo partner Mark Fyson. Since last year you’ve been competing alongside your new partner Douglas Fordyce. Did the transition go smoothly, and do you feel you are ready to aim for the podium in Wroclaw this year?
We both had to put in a lot of hard work at the start of our partnership as things were not running so smoothly to start with. However, our hard work and dedication resulted in a Bronze medal at the World Games after working together for just six months and a Silver medal at the European Championships after only eight months!
As we carry on working hard in the gym we hope to be strong contenders for this year’s World Championships.
Douglas, did you compete at an international level before teaming up with Edward? And in what way does your partner’s experience contribute to your duo?
Yes – before I moved to Spelthorne in 2009 to work with Ed I always worked as the base of a Mixed Pair. At the 2006 World Championships in Portugal my partner and I took the Gold medal in the 11 – 16 Age Group category. Although the technical elements at senior level are far harder, my experience has taught me that hard work and dedication are required to achieve top results. At first I was unsure if things would work out in a Men’s Pair but after a lot of hard training things are going well.
What do you consider the strengths of your Pair and how do your routines differ from those of your contenders?
Both being of a similar age and being focused on our acrobatic career, but also to have a good friendship. Our friendship and commitment to acrobatics means that we are able to have a laugh in the gym as well as work hard on what we need to do. Our choreography allows us to show off our artistic qualities and we work well with our choreographer – it is these qualities that we believe make us stand out in Men’s Pairs.
The Russian and Ukrainian Men’s Pairs actually seem to be your toughest competition. Did you have a chance to get to know them? What are your advantages and disadvantages compared to gymnasts from these countries?
We have both come up against the Russian and Ukrainian gymnasts many times before and have got to know them rather well over the years. Despite them being out toughest competition we all seem to be good friends – we only have a few translation difficulties!
Both of these Pairs have been together for many years and therefore have been able to develop their acrobatic skills together as their partnership developed. Doug and I have not had the same luxury and we have now only been together for just over a year with different acrobatic experiences and backgrounds.
What does your preparation for the Wroclaw Worlds look like?
Since the European Championships in 2009 we have been training ‘bigger’ and more difficult elements to improve our chances of winning a medal at the Worlds later this year. We will be practicing these skills over and over to perfect them ready for Wroclaw as even a small error will be costly.
What are your long-term career goals? Do you think that at some point after your career in competitive gymnastics you might consider joining the Cirque du Soleil?
When Edward’s parents took him to see Cirque du Soleil for the first time in London in 2000 he left the theatre knowing that being an artist in one of their shows was exactly what he wanted to do. Ten years later he still knows this is what he wants to do – but we are hunting for a Gold medal first!
Edward, Douglas, thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions and we wish you the best of luck for your upcoming competitions!
Doug and I would like to express our thanks to our coaches – Neil and Andrew Griffiths and Nicola Yellop. If it was not for them we would not have achieved the results to date and have no chance of success in Wroclaw later this year.
Statement of Karl Wharton – FIG TC Member (GBR)
I have witnessed both gymnasts develop over the years in several different partnerships and have always been impressed with their outstanding potential.
Both boys are single minded in their pursuit of excellence and bring an artistic quality to Men’s Pairs that is rarely seen.
Edward has been successful with several different gymnasts in the past and took a Bronze medal at the 2008 World Championships with Mark Fyson, one of my own former gymnasts.
I have no doubt that with their outstanding commitment and dedication to the sport Douglas and Edward have the chance of an even better result in Wroclaw this year.