Langholm gymnast, Sadie Cropper, has been powering her way to the top of the medal boards, scooping numerous recent Golds at both national and regional levels. And throughout, the 16 year old has shown extraordinary resilience in the face of great personal tragedy, losing her Mum Angela to cancer in mid November.
At the end of October, Sadie competed nationally in the Scottish Gymnastics Zinc Classic Challenge Floor and Vault Competition in Perth. Competing for Dumfries Y Gymnastics, she won gold on the Vault and gold in the Overall Competition, securing joint first place with Lucia Watson from Forfar.
Since the loss of her Mum, Sadie has gone on to win 3 Gold Medals at the Dumfries Y Gymnastics Club Championships in December, taking Golds on the Floor, Vault and Overall.
Sadie says her love of gymnastics started when she was six, first attending the Langholm Club, followed by a spell in Lochmaben. Her rise and success in the discipline has come with the full commitment of her family and Head Coach Steven Mckinnel right beside her, and endless car journeys getting her to training sessions, on a Monday and Friday.
Sadie is already giving back to the sport and coaches youngsters all day on Saturdays in Dumfries at the Y Club, where she is training for her Level 1 Coaching Award, which she’s about to take at the start of next month.
Sadie also does a bit of coaching in Langholm on a Wednesday and says her long term career goal, once she stops performing competitively, is to work with upcoming gymnasts. Sadie tells me it’s unusual within the sport to compete beyond about the age of 20.
Asked about her role models, this courageous teen says it’s always been the now retired British Olympic Gymnast, Beth Tweddle, and her Coach Steven Mckinnel from Annan.
“I’ve always looked up to him,” she says, talking about Steven “he’s caring and been with me since my very first competition and he’s still taking me up to Dumfries on a Monday”
“My Gymnastics is the biggest thing I look forward to in the week, once I finish on a Friday, I can’t wait to get back to it on a Monday.”
“Staying active is the key,” Sadie says, “along with conditioning, I should do a bit more at home,” she admits, “as long as you keep doing your Splits – that’s what they tell us.”
“We’re back in Competition season now. I’m hoping to take part in 5 events this year. Steven’s pushing me to take part in a 4 Piece competition for a new experience, that’s floor, vault, bars and beam; it’s a step up from just the floor and vault.”
Asked how she’s coping with the loss of her Mum, Sadie says it’s her family and friends, and her coach Steven, who’ve been keeping her going these past few months, along with the knowledge that things will get easier.
“You have to think of positives,” she says, “Obviously, it’s not really fully hit just yet – you’ve just got to hold onto the good things really.”
Sadie is one of 32 athletes who’ve received “Welcome to Langholm” Future Champions Award Funding over the past year. The Active Schools and Community Sport Officer for Langholm and Moffat, Calum Graham, has also been working with and supporting Sadie. He says talented youngsters can apply annually for help with transport and training costs, and any equipment needs. £14,250 was handed out to aspiring athletes in the last funding round, in stipends of £1000, £500 or £250.
“Young people normally apply between September and December,” Calum says, “but Covid has played havoc with the awarding process, so we’ve been handing out help sporadically, as they need it.”