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TRAMPOLINE-GYMNASTS'
EMBODIED LIVES:

AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY





RHIANNON LORD






DIRECTOR OF STUDIES: DR CARLY STEWART

SUPERVISOR: DR DAVID BROWN

SUPERVISOR: PROF SCOTT FLEMING















SUBMITTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF

PHILOSOPHY AT CARDIFF SCHOOL OF SPORT, CARDIFF METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY

AUGUST 2015

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ii



DECLARATIONS

This work has not previously been accepted in substance for any degree and is not being

concurrently submitted in candidature for any other degree.



Signed:........................................................(candidate)

Date:...........................................................



Statement 1

This thesis is the result of my own investigations, except where otherwise stated. Other

sources are acknowledged by citations giving explicit references. A list of references is

appended.



Signed:........................................................(candidate)

Date:...........................................................



Statement 2

I hereby give consent for this thesis, if accepted, to be available for consultation within the

university library, for photocopying and for inter-library loan, and for the title and summary

to be made available to outside organisations.



Signed:........................................................(candidate)

Date:...........................................................

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Jamie: It was just so tight [laughs]. I wasn't expecting it to be tight. I don't know why. I'm quite

glad I did it [wore the leotard in training before competition].

RL: You put your t-shirt and joggers back on.

Jamie: Yes [laughs]. I was embarrassed.

RL: Why?

't know, I didn't want people to see me in it [leotard]. No one really said

anything though.

(Focus group with male gymnasts, 16
th

October 2012)

Sarah: I didn't enjoy it.

RL: Why?

Sarah: It was just different.

RL: Was it better to show people in club first?

weird otherwise.

(Sarah, aged 7 years old, Interview,13
th

February 2013)

In addition to dress-rehearsals, competition terminology, language and processes were

implemented to help generate familiarity on the day. For example, the gymnasts were

asked their name, required to confirm who they were and then asked to begin. However,

despite these practices gymnasts still recounted their first competition experiences as being

a daunting, negative experience, even if they performed well on the trampoline, placed well

in their categories and won a medal.

RL: Do you remember your first competition?

Sophie: Urgh. It was horrible. Hated it.

(Sophie, Interview, 6
th

February)



RL: Do you remember your first one [competition]?

Leon: I think so, I was quite little really.

RL: What was it like?

Leon: I think I was more worried about getting through it than doing well or anything [laughs].

[Pause]. It wasn't very nice really, even though I won. I was still getting used to things I suppose.

Wearing a leotard, the people, the ummm, the judges.

(Focus group with male gymnasts, 16
th

October, 2012)



Newcomers were not the only ones who had to grapple with these competition

processes, parents required a certain amount of educating as to what was expected of them

and their child(ren) at these events. The club provided them with a document outlining the

preparation they needed to undertake and the processes that were likely to happen on the

day. Thus, at this stage of their trampoline career gymnasts were highly dependent upon

their parents' understanding of competition processes as well as getting to grips with it

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themselves. In constructing and performing an authentic trampoline identity, particularly in

competition spaces, parents had to aid their children's mirroring bodies, by buying into the

internalised, desired image their child(ren) were trying to achieve. For example, they

purchased trampoline/gymnastic apparel a leotard, shorts/stirrups, club t-shirts, club

hoodies. However, despite these preparations, uncertainty often prevailed and mistakes in

competition settings still occurred providing inauthentic gymnastic performances.

Marshal: Ryan?

RL: Yes.

Marshal: He's on next.

Ryan: Is this the real one now?

RL: Yep. Just remember, it's just like training. Just do the same. All I want you to do is get through

your routine.

Ryan nodded. He'd gone rather pale.

RL: Come on then.

Luke and I walked him to the nearest bed, the judges were still calculating their scores. Ryan went

to alight.

RL: Wait a minute otherwise you'll be waiting ages. And you need to take your t-shirt off as well.

Take your time.

Ryan quickly flung his t-shirt on the floor in a heap.

(Fieldnotes, 14
th

October, 2012)



A number of gymnasts, having overcome this stepping-stone to acceptance, noted

that this was indeed a pinnacle point for them in their trampoline career. Having competed

in a formal competition, newbies underwent a rite of passage. They became accepted

because they had experienced a judged performance.

Sophie: I don't know, it just seemed like after the first one [competition] I was part of the group.

They sort of were more friendly. I think it was like they needed to see if I could trampoline properly

or something.

(Sophie, 13 years old, Interview, 6
th

November 2012)

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CHILD'S ASSENT FORM
Title of Project: The Body, Narrative And Identity Construction In Trampoline
Gymnastics
Name of Researchers: Rhiannon Lord; Dr. Carly Stewart; Dr. David Brown; Prof. Scott
Fleming




Please fill this form by ticking the face by each question that you think is
best for you.

If you agree, tick this face

If you aren't sure, tick this face

If you disagree, tick this face


I understand the project and I know what will happen



I have had a chance to ask questions and get them answered


I know I can stop at any time and that it will be OK



I know that information about me might go into a book or magazine,
but nobody will ever know that it's me



I am happy to be recorded if we have a discussion




________________________________________________
Your Name Date

________________________________________________
Your Signature

________________________________________________
Name of person taking consent

________________________________________________
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Appendix I: Extract from the FIG code of points (2009)

DEDUCTIONS 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5
TUCK POSITION

TUCK POSITION

Angle upper
body/thighs

Elements without twist






Knees apart





Position of the
arms/hands

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