Sunderland gymnast wows on French TV

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A GYMNAST jumped leaps and bounds to come second in a French TV show competition.

Jesse Heskett, 19, of Fulwell, is one of a team of eight acrobatic gymnasts – Acropolis – who beat scores of entrants to compete in the final of The Best Le Meilleur Artiste.

The programme saw 84 of the best performers in the world take part in heats before eight finalists battled it out in front of judges to win 100,000 euros.

Acropolis narrowly missed out on the cash prize to winning duo Chilly and Fry, gaining the best score from the audience, but being named second by the four judges.

Jesse, who attended Monkwearmouth School and has been a gymnast since he was five, said it was disappointing to come second.

“After getting so far and working so hard on the routine for the final, it was a let down,” he said.

“But the two people who won did deserve it, and the standard of the performers in the competition was so high.”

The gymnasts, who are members of Deerness Gymnastics Academy in Durham, were asked to take part in the competition after winning the ITV show Got Talent last year.

The group, made up of reining World and British champion athletes, filmed the first heat of the show in July and the final in August, having to keep tight- lipped about the outcome of the programme until it was aired on French TV last night.

Jesse, who was hoping to win the competition to raise money for the academy, which is run as a charity, said coming second would not stop them competing for funds for the group.

“Although we didn’t get any money from this show, we are hoping that we will get offers off the back of it,” he said.

“It will have raised our profile, so we are hopeful that we get more corporate work, and we have a few things in discussion, but nothing is definite at the moment.”

Acropolis are also hoping their success will push more people to join the academy, and get involved in gymnastics.

“We want to encourage more people to come into the club and the sport,” said Jesse, who has been a member for 10 years.

“Since the TV show, there has been a massive surge of people saying how good a performance we gave, so things are looking hopeful.”

The Best Le Meilleur Artiste can be viewed online at www.tf1.fr/the-best. For more information on Acropolis, visit www.acropolis-live.com.