Teegan Murray (15) and Emma Clarke (13).

World games for baton twirlers

Two representatives from Bailieborough’s Rhythmic Dance Thrillers (RDT), a baton twirling group from the town, are set to represent Ireland at the world games in Liverpool in August.

Teegan Murray (15) and Emma Clarke (13), who are both students at Bailieborough Community School, will participate in the artistic group.

Their coach Kelly Clarke said the girls put in a lot of work getting to this level.

“It’s a great honour for the club and for the girls. They travel to Dublin twice a month to compete and train all year around, putting in six hours a week locally, not including time spent in Dublin,” revealed Kelly.

The club is affiliated to Twirl Ireland, which falls under the umbrella of Sport Ireland. It also had members marching in the Dublin St Patrick’s Day parade.

The club, which is 10 years old in May, is open for anybody and everybody to join: “We take people aged four plus, our oldest member is in her 40s. We are open to boys joining but we don’t have any at the minute.”

Kelly explains more about the sport: “It’s a mixture of ballet, dance, gymnastics, and mastering the baton. They might have to toss it in the air, do a cartwheel and catch it again. It requires balance, strength and concentration. You need to be physically and mentally fit.”

She added: “You get to create and choreograph a routine that can have one person or up to 20 people.”

Kelly is trying to expand the club from its current position of 15 members: “We are the only club in Ulster, but I’m opening another club in Virginia, in April. I’m trying to spread to more towns. I’m the only coach, but older athletes help to coach. I’m hoping in two years we will have three or four more clubs with 50-60 athletes.”

Kelly says finding the correct facilities can be difficult.

“We train in Bailieborough Courthouse and a school hall. We are struggling for a hall, we need a proper area. One hall is small with a high ceiling, while one is big with a low ceiling.”