Evening Star, Saturday, February 10, 2001

Clubís in a spin as grant helps new members roll in

THEY look like hamsters exercising in a spinning wheel ó except their feet are strapped down and itís likely they may choose to unhook and vault over the cage or turn with no hands as they con-tinue gracefully wheeling across the hall.

The Torwood Wheelers club - the only club in England that teaches rhoenrads ó was practising hard in Thurleston Schoolís sports hall when The Evening Star paid a visit,

Almost a year on from its inception, the club has just landed a £2,618 lottery grant enabling it to buy four new steel cages and roll headlong into the stomach churning world of the international sport.
Founding member and gymnastics teacher John described how a chance encounter with the spectacle in a bar in Switzerland ten years ago had him hooked and yearning to introduce the sport in Suffolk.

"Itís marvellous for improving body tension and it uses all the muscles," said the lean 56-year-old Bromeswell. "Itís not violent like so many other sports, in




fact when itís done well the whole thing is very gentle and controlled."

As the youngsters, aged between nine and 17, went through their moves it became clear what he meant. Hooked inside the metal rings they used every muscle to balance and control the wheel. Working in pairs, or individually, they were able to stop, turn or even climb out of the wheel as it rolled across the ground. "The trick is to keep your body tight and rigid said John, who ran the Torwood Boys gymnastics club and first introduced the lads to the sport two years ago.

I always wanted to have a go since I first saw the group in Switzerland and when I heard about a summer school in Germany I took two of the boys across to try it out,í he said.

The sport was invented in Germany in the l920s and although it has spread to other parts of Europe it is virtually unheard of in England. Getting hold of the specialist wheels was the first major hurdle and John, a home based computer support worker, found

himself scouring the country in search of suitable equipment,

The wheels range in size from 1.85m to 2.30m and cost between £400 to £600.

Now that the group has been able to purchase more wheels, bringing the total to seven, it is able to welcome new members.

Other than a few cuts a bruises when she fell
out of the wheel on two occasions, 13-year-old Amber of Felixstowe, would encourage anyone to join.
"I saw them at a carnival a few months ago
and wanted to try it out for myself," said the
Orwell High school pupil who gave up majorettes in favour of rhoenrads Ďseven months ago and hasnít looked back.
Itís not just the novelty that has Amber and
her school friend Sharon, of Trimley St Martin, hooked.
"There are so many different moves you can practise and we go to fetes sometimes and show people how we have improved and they have a go" said Sharon.
If you would like to join the group or learn
more about rhoenrads contact John on
visit our website at www.rhoenrads.colles.me.uk