Sports lecturer leads GB trampolinists at World Championships

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Paul Greaves holds a Great Britain flag outstretched above his head outside the University's Sports Centre

A University of Stirling Sports lecturer is hoping to help Great Britain’s top trampolinists secure a spot at the Olympic Games this month.

Paul Greaves, a Trampoline Coach with British Gymnastics, has been busy preparing GB’s senior team for the World Championships – a significant competition in the sports calendar – taking place in Birmingham from 9 -12 November.

As a former junior national coach, Paul has already achieved huge success in the sport, having also previously coached Olympic medal winner Bryony Page to silver at the Rio Games and bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

Paul Greaves stands outside in front of the University's Sports Centre
Paul Greaves
Lecturer in Sport Development and Coaching and British Gymnastics trampoline coach
It’s a very exciting time for the Great Britain team – we have some fantastic athletes and I am really privileged and honoured to be supporting them going in to this competition and hopefully, see some of them go through to the Olympics next year.

Paul, a lecturer in Sport Development and Coaching at Stirling, is looking forward to the new challenge the World Championships will bring.

He said: “This is a hugely significant competition. In trampoline, it is exceptionally difficult to go to the Olympic Games – only a maximum of two men and two women from each country are selected every four years and there’s only 16 places overall at the Olympics for all countries – it’s extremely competitive.

“It’s a very exciting time for the Great Britain team – we have some fantastic athletes and I am really privileged and honoured to be supporting them going in to this competition and hopefully, see some of them go through to the Olympics next year.”

Having already completed two training camps with the team in the run-up to the event, Paul says his role now is about fine tuning the athletes’ routines.

“My role is in the gym supporting the athletes on the trampoline, but that involves understanding each individual really well and what they need to succeed,” he said. 

“At this stage, I’m helping to make final tweaks and ensuring every technical aspect is correct. I’m also there to help them believe in themselves and have the confidence needed to succeed in a competition of this magnitude,” he added.

1000 gymnasts from 40 countries

More than 1,000 gymnasts from over 40 countries will compete at the 2023 World Trampoline, Tumbling and DMT Championships across eight days, at the Utilita Arena, Birmingham.

Leading GB’s trampoline gymnasts will be double-Olympic medallist Bryony Page, Izzy Songhurst, the 2023 British Champion, Laura Gallagher who represented Great Britain at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, and 2023 British silver medallist, Louise Brownsey, who is taking part in her third World Championships. 

The 2023 senior men’s British Champion Zak Perzamanos will return to the World Championships for a consecutive year alongside Andrew Stamp, Corey Walkes and Peter Buravytskiy, who is making his senior Worlds debut. 

Having himself competed in trampoline as a youngster – he was British team champion in 1999 – Paul fell in love with coaching as a teenager, eventually setting up his own club in his hometown. He later rose through the ranks to first coach the British junior team, before his latest appointment with the seniors.

"My athletes rocketed"

Paul said: “I started coaching – initially just to help out when a staff member was ill – in my club at the age of 14. At 18, I set up my own club in Sheffield, which initially started out as a small after school group but within five years had grown to have more than 250 members training five days a week.

“By 25, I was a Level 5 High Performance Coach but was keen to keep learning. I signed up for a Sports Science with Coaching degree to learn more about physiology, biomechanics, and psychology – topics which I had minimal knowledge on. 

“Once I started applying my university learning to my trampoline coaching environment, my athletes just rocketed. I went on to have athletes on youth, junior, senior and national teams, and competing internationally, and ultimately coached Bryony Page to Olympic Silver and Bronze in Rio and Tokyo, and in 2021 she was World Champion.”

Coach Paul Greaves with Olympian Bryony Page, who holds aloft her medal, in a trampoline centre

Paul Greaves with Bryony Page who became the first British trampolinist to win an Olympic medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo courtesy of Instagram: PaulGreaves01)

Having moved to Stirling in 2022, his students now benefit from his real-world practical experience of having coached from grassroots to the highest level.

“I think it’s really valuable for students to see that not only am I talking and teaching about the theoretical topics around coaching and sport development, I am still living it, and I have lived it but I’m actually still doing it. 

“Not only can I talk about the theory, I can say this is what I did with my athletes, this is how I developed them – bringing it to life is so much better than simply talking about it.”

A minority sport

Conscious that trampoline remains a minority sport, Paul’s keen to see its popularity grow, and has his sights on supporting the sport at grassroots level in Stirling.

“Trampoline is phenomenal for fitness and health and wellbeing,” he said. “The problem is getting access to it – equipment is expensive and it’s hard to store. The most successful clubs have purpose built, permanent facilities. We don’t have any local clubs in the Stirling area – bar the University’s Student Club – and in Scotland there’s a chronic shortage of both gymnastics and trampoline coaches.

“I’d love to see that change, I’d love to see the sport grow in Scotland, and perhaps one day I’ll start a club here.”

You can follow Paul’s journey through his Instagram account: PaulGreaves01

World Junior Championships

Meanwhile, University of Stirling sports scholar Ethan Cunningham - a first-year studying Sport and Exercise Science - has been selected to represent Team GB in the World Junior Trampolining Championships (age group 17 - 21), held in Birmingham from November 16 to 19.