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Gymnast's death was 'freak accident'

CHRIS FORDHAM: the young athlete was ranked fourth in the country. Picture courtesy BRITISH GYMNASTICS
CHRIS FORDHAM: the young athlete was ranked fourth in the country. Picture courtesy BRITISH GYMNASTICS

A 23-year-old champion gymnast died of head injuries after a freak accident while trampolining, an inquest was told.

Chris Fordham died on February 18, after a fall at the Jumpers Rebound Centre, in Gillingham.

The young athlete, who lived in Loose Road, Maidstone, was ranked fourth in the country as a “double mini-tramp” gymnast.

But he mis-judged the distance of his dismount from a trampoline jump and landed 2m outside the 6m x 3m crash-mat safety zone. He died nine days later, when his family made the decision to turn off his life-support machine after learning he had irreversible brain damage.

Coach Nick Earle told the hearing at Medway Coroner’s Court on Thursday, he had never seen anyone miss the safety zone.

Mr Earle, who has 25 years’ experience coaching on a national and international level, said: “Chris was quite grumpy because he’d overslept and skipped breakfast but he warmed-up well and seemed to calm down. His first attempt wasn’t perfect and he was annoyed with himself.

“I’d been coaching Chris for years and viewed him as a very competent athlete. There was no doubt he’d make the team.

“After his second jump, he was frustrated because he landed a little too close to the edge. He then lunged backwards into a somersault and landed eight metres away on the floor on his back. He didn’t judge how he would travel so far.

“I’ve never seen anyone completely miss. I think this was a one-off inexplicable accident.”

Mid and North Kent Coroner Roger Sykes, recorded a verdict of accidental death. He said: “Chris was an experienced and top-ranking international gymnast. But what he did was inexplicable and never seen before.

“The equipment was not at fault and I’m satisfied this was a tragic accident.”

Chris fordham was orginally from Wales.

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