A Lutton man took his first steps with a gymnastics club in a barn in Holbeach.
Since then tumbler James Booth represented Team GB in European and World Championships, appeared in opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics and Paralympics, worked as an acrobat in Bollywood and is now touring South America with the world renowned circus, Cirque du Soleil.
Scaling a 20m tall chimney for Danny Boyle’s Olympics Industrial Revolution scene was among the most moving and patriotic nights of his life.
“It’s a moment that will stay with me forever,” said James. “There are no words to describe it.”
Aged only 25, James has also completed his BSc Hons degree in medical science at Sheffield Hallam University.
He is home for a brief holiday and visited Holbeach and Fenland Gymnastics Club (H&F) as a thank you to some of the people who helped launch his career and to help inspire the next generation.
James was six when he had his first taste of gymnastics at Lutton St Nicholas Primary School and was encouraged to join H&F.
He said: “It was situated in a large concave barn with a homemade sprung floor and a couple of artistic pieces. It was basic but functional and had good coaches and hard working gymnasts.
“Since my time there I can happily say they have moved to a beautiful purpose built facility.
“I competed for H&F for five years and they developed me into a disciplined gymnast where I represented my county at the national championships.”
James moved to the larger gymnastics club in King’s Lynn and, aged 18, competed in the British Tournament tumbling FIG (Federation of Gymnastics) runs.
After a try-out, James joined national tumbling coach Craig Lowther at his club in Wakefield. He competed for Team GB at the 2011 World Cup in Denmark, the first of 11 internationals in four years.
His dream was to join Cirque and James auditioned for them in Wakefield. It went well but James “retired” from gymnastics, spending two years in the working world, before Cirque started the ball rolling that led to James appearing in Septimo Dia, performing to 8,000 people each show.
James said: “The show is based on an Argentinian rock band Soda Stereo who have a huge following throughout South and Central America. We have currently performed in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Lima and Santiago with more dates for Bogota, Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mexico City taking us to the end of the year.”
His dad, Chris, told us: “He has had a great career and it all started in a barn in Holbeach.”