Baton twirling: Squad represents Wales for first time

image copyrightJess Shore
image captionThe girls raised sponsorship of £1,400 each from local businesses to take part in the championships

Wales has been represented at the World Baton Twirling Championships for the first time.

A squad of four from Carmarthenshire has returned home after competing in the event in Lillehammer, Norway.

Baton twirling, a mixture of gymnastics, dance and the manipulation of a baton, has been a competitive sport since the 1970s.

The National Baton Twirling Association of Wales (NBTA Cymru) was founded in 2017.

Previously the squad - Nia Kirby, 11, and Maddie Montgomery, Francesca Thomas, and Stephanie Bowdler, all 12 - competed within the UK under England's National Baton Twirling Association (NBTA).

image copyrightWorld Twirling Championships Norway

But they then decided to form a national team.

Jess Shore, president of NBTA Cymru, said: "[Competing for England] didn't sit right with us.

"The girls are really patriotic and rightly so. Wales did need representation - there are loads of twirlers in Wales who don't get the opportunity to compete at that level."

She described competing in the championships as a "huge milestone" for the sport in Wales.

She added: "We have been made to feel really welcome by the officials and the other nations, many have introduced themselves and given us souvenirs from their countries.

"We have held our own competition wise and enjoyed the whole experience. Needless to say, we cannot wait for our next international event."

image copyrightJess Shore
image copyrightJess Shore

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