A Sheffield schoolboy has come on leaps and bounds after discovering a passion for the acrobatic craze known as parkour.
Alex Bourne, from Oughtibridge, first discovered the sport after watching videos of it on YouTube – and jumped at the chance to give it a go.
The sport, which combines freestyle gymnastics with running, challenges athletes to sprint, jump and flip from one place to another in the shortest route possible.
Already a keen gymnast, 13-year-old Alex began attending the freestyle sessions offered at Hillsborough Leisure Centre last year. Since then his abilities have reached new heights.
He said: “The sessions are great fun, as we’re learning all the things I wanted to do before I started going.
“We learn how to do jumps and vaults and all the things I saw when I watched the videos on YouTube, so it’s been perfect for me as there’s a lot of freedom to learn the moves I want.”
Alex’s mum, Karen, thinks the sessions have improved his fitness no end.
“He’s fitter and much more flexible as a result of the freestyle sessions,” she said.
“We don’t know how far he will go but Alex loves what he’s doing, so I don’t think he’ll be stopping anytime soon.”
Although parkour, also known as free-running, is not an everyday activity, Alex was eager to try it out.
“Since starting the sessions he’s never wanted to stop. Alex even does movements outside now, jumping over walls and boulders,” Karen said.
Freestyle sessions such as these offer something different for young athletes and encourage them to learn new moves and skills in a safe environment.
Bev Baker, aquatics and gymnastics manager at Sheffield International Venues, which runs Hillsborough Leisure Centre, said: “Alex’s progress has been outstanding since he came into the freestyle programme.
“Freestyle offers something different. Parkour and free-running are art forms and this programme teaches them.”
n The sessions run every Thursday at Hillsborough Leisure Centre. For more details go to www.sivltd.com/activity/gymnastics