Nour Yildiz has been turning cartwheels in her bedroom for as long as her family can remember, and loves going to classes at Aspire Gymnastics in Mirdif.
Now, at just six years old, she already has skills that impress one of BOUNCE’s top coaches and championship trampolining medalists. It’s clear there’s a budding young talent here.
Kirsteen Bowie coaches on BOUNCE’s Flight Academy trampolining training programme, and has spent the last 12 years competing (and winning) in national, regional and international competitions, representing both Great Britain and her native Scotland.
“Wow, you’re amazing!” exclaims Kirsteen, as she watches Nour take to the mats, quickly encouraging her to advance from a basic cartwheel to a “round-off”, a tricky gymnastics move where a cartwheel is completed in one sleek action, ending steadily on two feet, hands in the air. It’s harder than it sounds, yet Nour pretty much nails it after one or two attempts.
We’re seriously impressed already.
Although shy at first, Nour’s confidence grows under Kirsteen’s encouragement and guidance. They build an easy rapport on the tumble track trampoline towards the Big Bag jump, where, after a few practise forward rolls, Nour executes a near-perfect forward flip, into the enormous black cushion. “Again!” she cries with excitement, as she tries to jump higher, tucking in her legs for maximum power.
Although coach Kirsteen has been competing for years, and also worked as a personal trainer back in Scotland after completing a Sports Science degree, this has been her first opportunity to coach trampolining. And it all happened quite by chance.
“I was here on holiday, visiting my parents, and decided to come along to BOUNCE for a jump,” she tells us. “I started doing some tricks that caught the attention of some of the coaches, and I was then approached by the owners about coming to work here, which has just been amazing!”
Back on the floor, the two move on to the free jump area, to see who can leap the highest and touch their toes at the same time. Cue lots of giggling and falling over. Then it’s Nour’s turn to teach her coach a move of her own… the bridge.
“Oh no!” cries Kirsteen. “I’m really not very good at these.” She does it pretty well from where we’re standing, but we reckon the points on that one should go to Nour, who gracefully arches herself backwards with seemingly very little effort.
As we stand by, watching amazed, they chat about the long hours of training needed to be really good and trampoline competitively, but also how it’s worth it. Kirsteen reveals she spent around seven hours a week training and honing her skills in trampolining, which is still relatively new as a competitive sport – it
was only officially added to the Olympics roster as recently as 2000.
On a modern trampoline, a skilled athlete can bounce to a height of up to ten metres, somersaulting, twisting and tumbling through the air with breathtaking precision and speed that is truly spectacular to watch.
With that, Kirsteen treats us to a little show, demonstrating a few tricks of her own and inspiring several young jumpers around us to stop and watch, open-mouthed at the sheer scale of the heights she can reach. She then turns to Nour to ask if there’s anything else she would like to learn before they wrap up the session… Nour smiles and instantly states: “A backflip!” Luckily for her, Kirsteen is more than up for the challenge, and so she takes Nour back over to the tumble track to show her how it’s done.
After a few tries, they end the session hot, thirsty and out of breath, but with huge, beaming smiles. “I loved it,” Nour grins, while turning to look back at the tumble track. Kirsteen can sense her reluctance to leave. “Shall we go for one last jump?” she asks. And with that, they’re gone, bouncing and giggling some more, and they both don’t look back in our direction once.