Shropshire Star

Olympics 2016: Shropshire couple limbering up for key roles

They're the gymnastics power couple who will be playing key parts in the Rio Olympics.


Edgmond couple Colin and Christine Still, both regular faces at Lilleshall Sports Centre, have been part of the English sports scene for several decades.

During the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, Colin will coach Great Britain's gymnastics team, while Christine will provide the commentary for the BBC for her sixth games.

They both fly out tomorrow for Rio as expectations soar higher than ever before for the British gymnastics team.

Christine said: "It's something I'm looking forward to very much.

"It'll be my sixth Olympics. The first was in Atlanta in 1996 and every year has been very thrilling to do. Rio promises to be another exciting one.

"I'm a little bit nervous for it, but you're excited for it too. When you commentate, it's spontaneous. It's important to be excited, to feel emotional, and to translate that emotion into your voice.

"I live in the gymnastics world – I coach full time. The Olympics are always exciting and it's something I'd see even if I wasn't involved. It's fantastic to be a part of."

Christine was the first female commentator for the gymnastics in 1993.

She said: "Back then we hosted the World Championships in Britain.

"Until then, they'd only had male commentators on gymnastics – the producer got in touch, saying he wanted to add a female voice.

"I was one of the country's top coaches and the producer knew me so I went down, had a try and from there I've done every Olympics and Commonwealth games since.

"That producer was Barbara Slater, who is now Director of Sport for the BBC."

Christine said that being a commentator on the gymnastics was fantastic, adding: "Because I work in the gym every day, at Lilleshall a lot of the time, I see the British men's and women's teams. You can be quite insightful It's not something I'm going to be giving up. You do get quite a lot of feedback, especially now with social media. You get comments good and bad, and we've been lucky to have a lot of really good comments.

"The media side is very interesting. It's almost as developed as the athlete side – it's a massive operation. It really is huge and fascinating.

"It's a great privilege to work at the Olympic games."

Colin has been working with the female gymnastics team since the 80s. He is a familiar face to millions – the man who is at the sidelines as the drama unfolds in the arena.

He has lived and breathed the ups and downs of gymnasts like Beth Tweddle, who have helped to grow gymnastics in this country and turn it into a medal-winning sport.

Beth Tweddle

He said: "The last day of training was yesterday. We are meeting at a hotel today and then off we go tomorrow.

"This is four years of development. We're down to our last week and a bit. Everybody has done the right preparation and now they've just got to finish that off in the way we're hoping they will and they'll have a good games. You've got to go in confident."

Colin got his start in Olympics life in 1984, when 14 Eastern Bloc countries boycotted the games.

He said: "I was thrown in the deep end. That was my first team situation.

"From there I've seen the team go from twentieth in the world all the way down to third at the World Championships. We're hoping we can develop that through, but whether that happens or not, everybody works so hard for the Olympics. Nobody just gives away medals – you have to go out there and earn them."

There will be more controversy from the east this year, after it emerged that a number of Russian athletes had been doping to improve their performance.

But Colin has told his athletes to try and put the whole thing out of their minds as they head to Rio.

"It's a very volatile subject and we want to leave it to the politicians," he said.

Colin said that all of his fondest memories of the Olympics have come from the camaraderie of the Olympic Village. "Your team members – and that's the whole of Team GB – really get behind each sport.

"Our headquarters staff put up the names of people competing and everybody cheers them on. When they finish, the medals go up on a plaque, and you start seeing the medal count as it mounts up.

"It's hype all the way through. That's one of my fondest memories, the camaraderie of following your team."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.