Olympic Hopefuls: Horse power

PUBLISHED: 12:11 16 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:14 06 May 2010

Ivan Bulyha

Ivan Bulyha

Comet sports editor MARCUS CRAWLEY continues his look at some of the hopefuls who are aiming for glory at London 2012 Ivan Bulyha is one of the top young gymnasts in the country and has a real chance of going for gold at the Olympics in 2012. The 16-year

Comet sports editor MARCUS CRAWLEY continues his look at some of the hopefuls who are aiming for glory at London 2012

Ivan Bulyha is one of the top young gymnasts in the country and has a real chance of going for gold at the Olympics in 2012.

The 16-year-old was born in Baranovichi in Belarus, and came to this country four years ago when his mother Svetlana Lebiadzinskaya became coach and choreographer with the Marriotts Gymnastics Club in Stevenage.

Svetlana is now married to Marriotts' head coach Derek Trotter. Ivan has permanent residency in the

UK and hopes to get his full British passport by Christmas.

Ivan splits his time between his home in Stevenage with Derek, Svetlana and his baby brother Viktor, and living away from home at Hinckley where he trains with British national squad coach Alex Shyriaev and Hinckley head coach Trevor Low.

Hinckley is one of the country's top centres for men's gymnastics and Ivan is able to train with other national squad gymnasts as well as the national squad coach.

Gymnastics is in the blood for Ivan. His mother, Svetlana, is a former Russian national champion and several times national beam champion as well as being an international gymnast in the USSR squad.

When Ivan was four years old he started training under his mother's guidance and two years later he moved into the squad at the Olympic Club in Baranovichi.

He was a member of the national squad in Belarus and over the course of two years prior to leaving Belarus he came first in the national championship for his age nine times (this is contested around eight times a year among squad gymnasts in Belarus).

All this changed four years ago when he came to Britain to be with his mother.

Having signified his intention to remain in this country, he was selected for membership of the British Gymnastics World Class Start programme and is now a member of the British under-16 squad.

Ivan has already met with a great deal of success.

He was a winner of the London Open competition, and competed in San Francisco for the Hinckley team, winning five medals.

Ivan has attended British squad training camps in France and Greece as well as being a guest member of the British team in the four-way international held in Switzerland which also involved the host nation as well as France and Germany.

Recently, he competed in the 16 and under British championships (as a guest) and finished in fifth place.

By next year he should have his British passport and be competing as a British citizen.

Proud parents Derek and Svetlana said: "Ivan is a very natural, talented gymnast; we hope in the next few years Ivan will work hard enough to realise his full potential in gymnastics."

It is not all gymnastics and foreign travel for Ivan though.

He is studying for his GCSEs where his favourite subjects are maths and science.

Ivan is fluent in English and Russian, as well as learning French.

He enjoys films and cooking as well as being back in Stevenage with his family.

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