Opening the door to the gym, I’m aware of the odour of the shoe drawers at the same moment as I hear “1, 2, 3 ‘andstand.”
I have come to collect the 1&onlyD from one of her twice weekly gymnastics classes. The two hour session ends with the handstand contest. Girls on one side of the mat, boys on the other, in direct competition. The first ‘team’ to get ten points wins. A point is won by having one of your gymnasts holding their handstand longest.
The girls win. They always do. They have Katie, who has near perfect upside-down balance. Even if they didn’t have Katie, there are three or four times as many girls as boys, which when only one gymnast can win each round, is a telling advantage. But they do have Katie and she wins all ten of their points.
The unvarying nature of the contest baffles me. The gender division seems crude. The whole thing felt anachronistic, even before I was talking to a Mum on the football touchline who, 25 years ago, was a member of the same gymnastics club, and who confirmed they ended every session with the ‘andstand competition.