A young Acrobatic Gymnast from Swindon is paving the way for boys at Evoke Gymnastics in the town.
Kailen, 16, first signed up for Recreational Gymnastics at nine, after a local club offered him a free taster session.
He had previously tried football and rugby, but they were not for him. After being offered a place, within six months he was offered a trial for a new Acrobatics squad and found pure joy in the discipline.
In the beginning, people often made remarks about the sport to Kailen, saying it wasn’t for boys or asking him: “Isn’t gymnastics a girl's sport?"
However, even though this knocked Kailen’s confidence, he chose to ignore the stereotype and remind himself how much he loves Acrobatics and the feeling it gives him.
Today Kailen is representing his country internationally. He said: "I love how my squad and my coach are like my family. We have such a strong bond and even though we are all on our own journey, we are there to support one another. My coach always strives to help me see the best in myself.
“I now also help to coach the boy’s development squad at Evoke. I enjoy being able to see other boys in Acrobatics and be a role model that they can look up to.
"As I started out myself at around their age, I want to be able to inspire them and share my passion with them.”
As Kailen has progressed, he now competes with his Acrobatic partner Ruby, and the two get along like brother and sister.
They encourage each other to keep on working hard and learn new skills. As Kailen doesn’t like to be the centre of attention but thrives during competitions, he loves working with Ruby as a team.
Natalie, Kailen’s mum and number one supporter, said: “When I see Kailen’s face and his whole demeanour bursting with pride and self-confidence and training it fills my heart with so much joy.
"The dedication and discipline that Acrobatics has brought him is something that [Anchor] I’m not sure could be replicated elsewhere.
“Kailen enjoys the fun and often difficult challenges Acrobatics brings, trying different skills, achieving them, and pushing himself. Working with his partner and having that trust with each other.
“Acrobatics through the years has given him this strong but quiet confidence that has allowed him to express himself.
"He was never able to express himself or have a ‘release’ with the usual male sports like football. Acrobatics found him, he found Acrobatics, and he has never looked back.”
Looking forward, Kailen is hoping to represent Great Britain at the Acrobatic World and European Championships next year and would love for himself and Ruby to be able to make it to the podium.
British Gymnastics in encouraging people to come and ‘Find Your Amazing’ through gymnastics.
Further information can be found at www.british-gymnastics.org/discover/
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