DESPITE being crowned British rhythmic gymnastics champion for the fifth time in seven years, Cricklade’s Laura Halford says it is still as rewarding as ever.

The 22-year-old, who is now based out of Llanelli Rhythmic Academy and won silver in the hoop routine at the Commonwealth Games in Australia earlier this year, clinched the title with a score of 57.700 at the International Centre in Telford at the weekend.

Halford took great confidence from the result after admitting she didn’t feel at her best whilst competing in Shropshire.

“I still get the same feeling every time I win the competition. It is just as rewarding as the last time,” she said.

“After the Commonwealth Games, I had a bit of a holiday. Coming into the competition, I didn’t feel as ready as I have in previous years.

“It was a case of seeing where we were at this moment in time. I wasn’t 100 per cent confident.

“I wasn’t expecting to show my best, I did as good as I could. I was happy with my routine on the first day, but was shaky with the ball. I lost a lot of consistency, so I know that is something I can work on.

“Then for clubs and ribbons, I was quite tired, so I had a lot of silly mistakes on the second day.

“Again, that’s an endurance thing. It’s definitely a confidence thing, I know I’m heading in the right direction. I can definitely take away some positives.”

Halford, 22, also took the clubs title with a score of 16.700, was second in the ribbon and hoop disciplines and third in the ball.

In the senior groups event, Team Bath took the all-around title with 21.800 after a stunning hoop routine, with Swindon’s Esprit Rhythmic team of Katy Coleman, Hannah Dagg, Georgette Jeapes, Madison Kennelly and Miriam Rodrigues bagging silver with 20.200.

Halford will now work towards her next event, which is the World Cup in Minsk, Belarus in a month.

“We won’t be making any changes to the routine for Belarus, it’s just working on the consistency now,” she added.

“It’s definitely better to be in a situation where you’re coming up to a tournament and you’re not making lots of changes.

“It’s making me confident knowing that the routines are set. You have to just do the the same things over and over.

“We try and mix it up a bit so that it doesn’t get too repetitive.”

Eirlys Jones took the U11 British title as well as sweeping the board in all three individual events – winning gold in ball, clubs and free.

Coached by Deb Hows at Swindon’s Esprit club, Jones – who lives Hankerton near Malmesbury and goes to Minety Primary School – is also a member of the Welsh squad and trains every weekend with Halford in Cardiff.