Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled
Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled

World Games success for Chloe

Chloe Russell

June 2023



Chloe Russell’s dream, since she was a little girl, was to compete at the Special Olympics World Games. Not only did she compete in Berlin at this year’s event, she won two gold medals, a silver, a bronze, and a fifth place!


The gymnast from Jersey Special Gymnastics Club, fully deserved her stunning results after working so hard on her routines alongside her three coaches (Head Coach Nikki, Jeannine and Josie in Jersey). She has also benefited from PT sessions courtesy of Strive.




How does Special Olympics at World Game Level work?


Once podium training has been completed, gymnasts are put into divisions so that they are competing at their level with gymnasts of the same ability.

Chloe was competing at Level 2, and with 25 gymnasts in that group, they were split into 5 divisions. Division 1 is the top level while Division 5 is the lowest division in group.


This means that in each division there will be a gold, silver and bronze medallist which gives each competitor a greater chance of a medal, promoting both confidence and inclusion.


Here are Chloe’s superb results:

Apparatus Finals score  + % of Podium score TOTAL SCORE
Floor  Division 5 11.737 3.813 15.550 - Silver
Beam Division 3 10.65 3.75 14.400 - Gold 
Bars   Division 5 14.025 4.238 18.262 - Gold
Vault  Divison 4 14.063 4.55 18.613 - Bronze
An emotional Chloe in Berlin

There were only four divisions in the "All Around" section, where Chloe finished in 5th place with a total score of 66.825.


Jersey Special Gymnastics Club head coach Nikki Kirkland told the JSAD: "THis was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Chloe, and she absolutely loved the experience!"


Congratulations to Chloe Russell from everyone at the JSAD for a remarkable achievement at her debut World Games.




Decathlete legend visits Special Gym Club!

Daley Thompson with JSGC members Daley Thompson with JSGC members

April 2023


The Jersey Special Gymnastics Club welcomed one of the world's greatest decathletes, Daley Thompson, to one of their recent training sessions at Fort Regent.


On a short visit to Jersey, Daley had expressed a wish to see some of the work carried out by Disability Sport, and he wasn't disappointed. He spent time watching the gymnasts practise their routines, and took time to chat to gymnasts and coaches. 


Head coach Nicola Kirkland was full of enthusiasm. "It was amazing that Daley visited our club," she said. "He made the day of one of our new coaches Megan by telling her that he had been watching her coach and that she was doing a great job." 


It might only be a short while until the club sees him again. "He’s hoping to be back later in the year and has asked if he can come back. Obviously we said yes!"

Daley Thompson is considered one of the greatest decathletes of all time Daley Thompson is considered one of the greatest decathletes of all time

Without doubt the greatest British decathlete to ever compete, Daley Thompson won the decathlon gold medal at both the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games.


He broke the world record for the event four times. He went unbeaten in major competitions for nine years!


Daley also found out during his visit about James Brady's training for his next wheelchair tennis tournament.


To finish off a cracking April for the Jersey Special Gymnastics Club, a very first open day was held and it was a huge success with at least five new members joining. Head coach Nicola Kirkland said: "Jeannine (Carey) and I were so happy to be able to welcome people back to the club and show new parents what we do."







Temporary home found - but only for 12 months....

February 2023


A new, albeit temporary home has been found for the Jersey Special Gym Club. The Government of Jersey, in association with Jersey Sport, have managed to relocate the club to Fort Regent.

Special Gym Club members at their new venue Jersey Special Gym Club members at their new venue

For head coach Nikki Kirkland, a huge relief, but, as she told BBC Radio Jersey, there's no let-up in the search for a permanent home.


"It's so nice to be in a proper gym again. We're still in the hunt for a permanent home, but at least having this temporarily means we can keep training, and we keep our members. Because that was the fear, that without a home, we would lose a lot of them."


The gymnasts themselves are obviously delighted as well, as Nikki explained. "Our members are absolutely over the moon that we've finally got somewhere to train, for the time being."

Deputy Lucy Stephenson Deputy Lucy Stephenson

Another relieved person was the Assistant Minister with responsibility for Sport, Deputy Lucy Stephenson.


"It's taken a few months to get to this point," she said, "but I'm really glad we're here now, and can see the athletes able to train again."


But she offered a note of caution, and then some positive vibes. "It's private club and government doesn't have a responsibility to find the club a new home, but since I've been appointed, and together with various ministers, we have made it clear we want to help with that progress."


So it's good new for the Jersey Special Gym Club, and all the members and coaches, but only for the rest of 2023. After that, the future is less certain.





Special Gym Club crisis - closure looming?    UPDATE

Greenfields - from where the Jersey Special Gym Club was evicted earlier this year

October 19th 2022


The future has been looking extremely bleak for the club that has been operational for three decades, and one that has produced four World Champions, eleven National Champions, and has accumulated hundreds of gold medals right around the world.


They simply have no home, despite promises from the Government of Jersey.


The Jersey Special Gym Club has always provided opportunities for children with special needs to participate in gymnastics. It has also always punched well above its weight with masses of success at regional, national and international levels.  The club is recognised by Special Olympics Great Britain as a Centre of Excellence and its club coaches are regarded as some of the best in Britain. 


So, what has gone wrong? Why is there talk of this incredibly thriving club maybe folding in the very near future?


We need to look back at the history of the club which started its days operating from a school gym. As it continued to flourish, it became necessary for the gymnasts to move.  After finding temporary facilities, the Government of Jersey placed them at the Greenfields facility; this was always supposed to be a temporary home as well. The Government of the day pledged to find the Special Gym Club a permanent home, but in spite of numerous attempts to progress this pledge, so far it has failed to do so. 




But according to the Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled chairman, Paul Patterson MBE, there may be just be some better news around the corner. Following what he describes as a "positive" call with Jersey's Minister of Sport, Lucy Stephenson, it appears that there is plenty of action happening behind the scenes at government level. 


"There is, at this moment confidential, a plan to find a short term home for the Special Gym Club," he said, "and I like what I am hearing. I thank the MInister for her ongoing help."


So while there are no concrete plans finalised, it does seem the Government is responding to the dilemma afflicting a club that changes so many lives for the better, and improves the health and well-being of so many vulnerable children with special needs.


Any further developments will be reported here as soon as the details become available.





Medals for Alex, Chloe and Jessica in first post-Covid competition

It’s well done to Alex Wheatley, Chloe Russell and Jessica Viera, who all came away with well-earned medals from the Special Olympics Waveney Open Summer Series of Sport.


This was their first competition since Covid so all involved were nervous and excited to compete and catch up with all their friends.


The nerves and the heat in the gym got the better of all the girls at first but they went on to produce good routines and results. All three gymnasts medalled in each piece of apparatus.


The highlights were the gold medals won by Alex Wheatley & Chloe Russell on Floor & A-Bars respectively. Both girls were competing at Level 2.

Jessica Vieira, competing at Level 3, gained a Silver and 3 Bronze on her pieces.


Their subsequent return home was hampered by two flight cancellations by Easy Jet on the Sunday evening and the first flight on the Tuesday morning and the gymnasts and their coaches eventually arriving 48 hours late back in Jersey.


Head Coach Nicola Kirkland was delighted with the performances. “We are proud of how the girls performed, having had to learn new routines during Covid, and training in the knowledge of the imminent loss of their gym, and also for the way that they conducted themselves during the delays.”


Nicola went on to pay aanother tribute: “A special thank you must go to Tori from De Mond Gymnastics Club who let us use their facilities for the girls to train the week before the competition, following the eviction from our home of 14 years at Greenfields.”


Despite this successful trip, the Jersey Special Gymnastics Club are still looking for that new home to keep their club going, and would appreciate hearing from anyone who may have a building suitable to use.


See the original story below for more details, and scroll upwards for all the latest news in the search for a new home.






Huge anxiety for Jersey Special Gymnastics Club 

May 24th 2022


After all the trials and tribulations of the Covid-filled past two years, another sinister situation is currently being faced by the Jersey Special Gymnastics Club.


The Club have been told they must vacate their premises at Greenfields and remove all their substantial equipment from the site.


This is at a time when the club have a team participating in UK for a competition in early July, which is a qualifier for the next World Games in Berlin next year. If one or more of the gymnasts are selected for a GB team slot it will, of course, add pressure to ensure the club have some access to a gym and equipment for training.  There are only three places available on the GB Team so competition will be strong.


According to the JSAD, this is a particular body-blow as there is no political leadership anywhere in the run up to the general election next month. The JSAD also say that: ”This club has produced some of the finest athletes Jersey has seen, at world level, so this situation is totally unacceptable.”


The States of Jersey’s Children, Education and Skills department have sent a “notice to vacate the sports hall” at Greenfields Secure Children’s home, citing that “due to the nature of risk associated with residents at Greenfields, we are unable to establish dual purpose.”  


The chair of the Jersey Special Gymnastics Club, Jeannine Carey, gave us her reaction to the news. “The coaching team and committee were disappointed and shocked to hear, via Channel 103 initially on the 6th April, that we were required to be out of our premises by the 5th July,” she said. “The timing is not good for the club when we have gymnasts competing in the UK on the 9th and 10th July so they need to train on equipment up to the event.”
Jeannine also explained the kind of premises that are needed. “We ideally require a property at least 6 metres high with a minimum of 30 metres in length and 16 metres wide. We will also require toilets, including a disabled toilet, a small store room for supplementary equipment, parking & access for safe drop offs.”
She also added that in order to store all its equipment, whilst finding a new home, the club require a store of at least 4 metres in height, and a floor space of 12 metres by 10 metres.
Looking at a worst-case scenario, what happens if no new or temporary premises can be found? Jeannine is quite clear on this. “It would be absolutely soul destroying if no premises could be found temporarily and the thought that the club would cease to continue is not something that we are willing to consider at the moment.”
Jeannine also gave an historical context to the problem. “The Special Gymnastics Club was founded in 1991 by John Grady and has produced several World Champions,” she said. “We hope that it will do so in the future. We would not wish to see all the work he did undone. The longer we are without premises the harder it will be to maintain the levels our gymnasts are currently working at, and also grow or maintain the current level of participation.”
She finished off by telling us how important the sport is for all the participants. “Gymnastics is a good sport for teaching discipline, independence and a strong work ethos, and has helped many of our young special needs gymnasts thrive and go on to better things as a result.”
If you, or anybody you know can help, please contact chair Jeannine Carey or head coach Nikki Kirkland at or contact the JSAD either by mail: or by phone: +44 1534 872855.





Gym Club stars meet Jersey's Bailiff

Four members of the Jersey Special Gym Club that performed so well at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi this year were invited to meet the Bailiff, with their family and friends, in recognition of their achievements representing Great Britain.


Also invited were three further gymnasts who competed at  previous World Games in Los Angeles and Athens.


They all chatted to the Bailiff and some States members about their experiences, and to show them their medals.


Deputy Kevin Pamplin said on Twitter: "Great to catch up and celebrate the success of our brilliant medal-winning ambassadors. A wonderful reminder of what hard work, teamwork, and aiming for your dreams can bring."





Christmas Competition photos 2018

Take a look at some images from the final gym competition of the year.

12 medals at British Masters

Four Jersey special gymnasts came home from the Echo Arena in Liverpool after earning 12 medals, at the British Disability Masters.


Alex Buesnel won four golds, including taking top position in the All-Round section. There were also medals for James Lang and  Matthew Kirkland, with Aaron Bonner just missing out on bronze in the High Bar.


Full Jersey results below.


                   Gold Medal            Alex Buesnel         68.300 
  Bronze medal James Lang 64.150
  Fifth place Matthew Kirkland 53.300
  Sixth place Aaron Bonnar 52.150


                   Bronze medal       Matthew Kirkland   11.700
  Fourth place Alex Buesnel 11.650
  Sixth place Aaron Bonnar 11.200
  Seventh place James lang 11.200


                   Gold Medal            Alex Buesnel         10.650 
  Silver Medal Matthew Kirkland 10.550
  Bronze medal James Lang 10.300


                   Silver Medal           Alex Buesnel        11.050 
  Fourth place James Lang 10.300
  Fifth place Aaron Bonnar 10.200


                   Gold Medal            Alex Buesnel         11.900 
  Bronze medal James Lang 10.950
  Fifth place Matthew Kirkland 10.500
  Sixth place Aaron Bonnar 10.050


                   Silver Medal            Alex Buesnel         11.000 
  Fourth place James Lang 10.800
  Fifth place Aaron Bonnar 10.500
  Seventh place Matthew Kirkland 10.400


                   Gold Medal            Alex Buesnel         12.050 
  Bronze medal James Lang 10.600
  Fourth place Aaron Bonnar 10.200
  Fifth place Matthew Kirkland 10.150

Medals for entire squad in Poole! 

10 members of the Jersey Special Gymnastics Club competed in the Poole Open Artistic Gymnastics Competition at Rossmore Leisure Centre, and all ten came back with medals.


 Chloe, the senior member of the squad, travelled to compete for the first time after an 18-month break for surgery on both knees. She had an outstanding competition, coming home with three medals.

For two of the gymnasts, Marc and Monique, it was their first tournament outside Jersey and they both had a great competition and experience. 

  Level Vault Floor Beam/PBars
Chloe Russell Level 1 - U21 Gold Silver Silver
Harry Sinclair Level 1 - U16 Silver Bronze x
Alexandra Wheatley Level 1 - U16 Gold Gold Gold
Anais Martin-Cellier Level 1 - U12 Gold Gold Gold
Liam Timothy Level B - U12 Silver Bronze x
Talia Racjan Level B - U12 Gold Bronze x
Marc Silvester Level B - U12 Silver x x
Isabella Mendes Level A - U9 Silver Bronze x
Monique Gueguen Level 1 - U9 Gold Bronze Gold
Isabella Doucet Level 1 - U9  x Silver Bronze

Tenth British title for Alex Buesnel!

Alex Buesnel with his trophy Alex Buesnel with his trophy

Jersey Special Gymnastic Club’s superstar Alex Buesnel has won the 2017 British Disability Championships Men's Open Title for an unbelievable tenth consecutive year at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall. 


His four team mates at the event also did the club proud. Matthew Kirkland and Aaron Bonnar made it a 1-2-3 with Alex in the Men’s Open, Cailiegh Quail was second overall in the Women’s Senior, while at the ripe old age of 42, Rui Reis won overall Gold in the Senior Men’s B Competition.

The squad of five at Lilleshall

In the Men’s Open, Alex secured Gold medals on all the apparatus, (vault, pommel, rings, floor, high bar and parallel bars) to take the overall title for the tenth consecutive time.


Alex’s dad Gary did not hide his pride, saying: “To win one national title is fantastic, to win ten back to back is nothing short of phenomenal!”

Alex on his way to his 10th title Alex on his way to his 10th title



That is something that has never been achieved before, and surely means that Alex is the greatest disability men's gymnast that Great Britain has ever produced.



Matthew Kirkland took second place with three Silvers and two Bronze medals, with Aaron Bonnar, who was equal second with only the high bar left, taking third place overall with two Silvers and two Bronze.


Head coach Yana Vibert thought that those second and third positions were well deserved. “Both boys have worked really hard this year with both putting many more new skills into their routines.” 

MEN'S OPEN Floor Pom Ring Vault P Bar H Bar Total
1 Alex Buesnel 12.400 10.850 11.100 11.150 10.950 10.900 67.350
2 Matthew Kirkland 10.950 10.500 8.750 10.650 10.500 8.700 60.050
3 Aaron Bonnar 11.350 10.000 9.700 10.650 9.650 7.550 58.900

In taking second place overall in the Women’s Senior Open, Cailiegh Quail won six silvers against a long standing competitor from Glasgow, Georgia Carslow.


Rui Reis competed in the Senior Men's Competition B and amassed a really impressive five Golds and two Silvers. At 42 years old, Rui was competing against men half his age but he showed his dominance winning overall Gold.



Please note that all previous Special Gymnastics stories are now in the two Special Gymnastics Archives section. Click on the appropriate link from the list of sections on the left hand side of this page.

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