• Phil Packer

British Elite Disability Gymnast, Natasha Coates, joins the BRIT Ambassador family

We are delighted that Natasha has joined our BRIT Ambassador family and is championing the annual BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness throughout the UK. Natasha has competed in Disability Gymnastics since 2014, after being diagnosed with a rare condition called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. Despite being hospitalised on average every two weeks, and battling over 250 life threatening episodes that required hospitalisation, intensive care treatment and medication to keep her alive, Natasha has won 22 British titles and 43 British medals. Having been discharged from hospital in May 2021 following another life-threatening reaction, Natasha returning to training in preparation for the British Championships in October. In the women’s senior A class 1 competition. Natasha won five silver medals, one on each apparatus (Beam, Floor, Vault and Uneven Bars) and in the all-around.

Natasha Coates - British Elite disability Gymnast (Photo Credited to Nell McGarry)

“Having lived with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome since the age of 18, I have struggled with my own mental health challenges and know how lucky I have been to be surrounding by loving friends and family. As an elite gymnast, and spending a great deal of time around other young adults, I am aware that many students feel isolated and experience depression and loneliness. I appreciate that the past two years have been a very challenging time for those who are vulnerable or have existing mental health difficulties. It is deeply concerning that the COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the existing mental health difficulties faced by young adults. Being surrounded by family or friends that can read the early signs of unhappiness, depression, anxiety and loneliness is so important; as is knowing where to find support when you need it the most. In addition to signposting students and young adults to Papyrus – Prevention of Young Suicide, Samaritans, Shout and the MindOut LGBTQ mental health charity, I am delighted that BRIT are inviting every university and college team to raise funds for a second charity, alongside BRIT, to support local, regional and national charities. The British Inspiration Trust’s Vision is to support and improve young adult mental health throughout the UK by delivering the annual BRIT Challenge. Paralympians, Olympians, Sports Personalities, Adventurers and Explorers are joining the BRIT Ambassador family to deliver inspiration and encourage the millions of students and staff at universities and colleges throughout the UK to enter team in the BRIT Challenge. I know that elite athletes from all sports will want to join the BRIT Ambassador family for many reasons; to share their lived experiences to help others, destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion. If ever there was a time to unite in support of young adult and student mental health it is now I am thrilled to be a BRIT Ambassador and would be delighted to support and encourage students and staff at Nottingham Trent University, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham College and West Nottinghamshire College as they take on the BRIT Challenge.” Natasha Coates British Elite Disability Gymnast

Natasha competing on the Beam

Natasha started gymnastics at her local recreational club when she was 8 years old. When she was nine, she joined an artistic club as she wanted to try bars, beam and the vault. Natasha trains at Notts Gymnastics Academy.

When she was 18 years old, Natasha developed a rare condition called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome; anything from sweating to laughing can set off a life-threatening allergic reaction and she is hospitalised on average every two weeks. She has had over 500 admissions to hospital and 250 life threatening episodes requiring hospitalisation, intensive care treatment and medication just to keep her alive.

She hasn’t let the condition hold her back and Natasha decided to continue her gymnastics, this time entering in Disability Gymnastics competitions and in 2014, she was crowned the all-around artistic British Champion. Since then, Natasha has won 22 British titles and 43 British medals.

In October 2021, Natasha competed In the women’s senior A class 1 competition at the British Championships where she won five silver medals, one on each apparatus (Beam, Floor, Vault and Uneven Bars) and in the all-around. For more information on Disability Gymnastics, please visit the British Gymnastics website.

To find out more about Natasha, please visit her website. You can follow Natasha on Instagram or on Twitter.