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16 August 2011 | in Artistic Gymnastics, Summer Universiade

2011 SU Update: Rocky Road to Shenzhen for UK Family

Hazel Fern, Alan Fern, Sam Fern and Maddison Carter happily at the Shenzhen Bao’an Gymnasium


SHENZHEN - A UK family was faced with one challenge after another in the weeks leading up to the 2011 Shenzhen Universiade.

When Hazel and Alan Fern first found out their son Sam made the Universiade team they were excited.

However, 3 weeks before the games, Sam fell during training and tore the ligaments in his foot.

After resting for a few days he knew that his foot would not be healed in time for his competition. 

Sam, who studies primary education at Leeds Metropolitan University, said “I didn’t want to make it worse, so I stopped practising landings.”

The gymnast was determined and still made it to Shenzhen, but walked into the competition with an injured foot. 

When Sam finally landed, the foot could not support the strain and he fell.

Sam put it frankly, “It hurt” he said.

However even before the competition began, more frustration arose for his family.

After the 20-hour-long journey from Manchester, the family was told tickets for their sons event had sold out. 

Mr & Mrs Hazel were then assured by Universiade volunteers they could get tickets from Bank of China branches around the city.

However at the banks their biggest fear was only reaffirmed, all tickets had sold out.

Maddison Carter, Sam’s fiancée said, “I cried in the Banks a few times.”

Mrs Fern, who is also a national gymnastics judge said “We came all this way and we were going to miss out on tickets.”

But one afternoon when the family went by the stadium to take some photos, they asked another volunteer who then organised some tickets.

 “We were so relieved,” Mrs Fern said.

Due to the injury Sam did not make the finals, however he says he still enjoyed the experience of coming here and learning about the cultural differences.

“Everyone is so polite,” he said.

He is now undergoing physiotherapy for his injuries and will commence training again when he returns to England.


(Source: FISU Young Reporter Dominick Czakilew/AUS)