Taunton freerunner Rob Cross hopes to make it to the big stage

This is The West Country: Rob Cross in action. Rob Cross in action.

IT was William Shakespeare who wrote ‘all the world’s a stage’ - and for one teenager that is, quite literally, true.

Reporter Daniel Milligan met free runner Rob Cross to see if he could pick up a couple of tricks.

Also, to see a video of Rob in action, see below.

WHAT most people would see as a simple park bench, railings or a walkway can be the perfect area to perform for up-and-coming free runner Rob Cross.

The fearless 16-year-old hopes to become one of the country’s leading exponents of the sport and posts videos of his antics on social media, which have attracted tens of thousands of views.

Rob, who is studying engineering at Somerset College, said he started when he was about four years old when his friend at primary school saw a news item on the television and the pair watched a film called Jump Britain.

He said: “We thought it was pretty cool so started jumping around in the playground and practising a few tricks.

“We were only doing basic things but it was good fun.”

Rob, who lives with his parents Jo and Tim Cross in Churchstanton, defines his antics as a mixture of parkour and free running, with parkour involving basic jumps and leaps while free running tends to concentrate more on the creativity of flips and tumbles.

This is The West Country:

Parkour became popular in the UK in the late 1990s and early 2000s after it was introduced to the world by Frenchman David Belle.

He stopped his free running for several years but decided to take it up again when he was ten ... and he hasn’t stopped since.

Rob added: “It is a stress relief, especially as a good way to relax and get away from the pressure of exams.

“We do it all over Taunton – anywhere that has got gaps and barriers, walls and other really random abstract things.”

Despite risking serious injury every time he jumps from buildings to railings or walls to bike racks, Rob said he has only suffered a handful of minor sprains with his worst injury being a broken foot.

He said: “It can be difficult to keep free running with them [sprains] and it can keep you out of it for a while.”

This is The West Country:

Rob, who also has a brother, Russ, 19, said practice is one of the key factors in honing your skills and he trains several times a week at home and attends a free running session run from the YMCA in Taunton on Thursday nights.

He added: “If you were jumping a lot during the day and then you didn’t jump for a week you would be fine, but if you didn’t jump for around a month, your skills would drop off.

“I can do most of the flips but there are a lot of variations of flips and spins.”

Rob said there are around ten youngsters who perform tricks around Taunton, one of whom battled his way to finals in the sport’s first world championships.

Pip Andersen, from Taunton, was one of 23 competitors to take part in the first Freerunning World Championships in 2007.

Pip flipped his way to the final and came out as fourth in the world – despite sustaining an injury.

He has been involved in setting up a new parkour park close to ASDA in Taunton.

Rob said: “I wanted to be a part of the process because there are not that many places in Taunton to train and many of them you get moved on from.

“So, designing it was great to make sure the people of Taunton were going to end up with a great park.”

Rob said he hopes to compete at Red Bull Art Of Motion in Santorini, Greece, which sees performers judged on a two-minute routine and marked on its difficulty, execution and creativity.

This is The West Country:

When I asked if I could pick up the sport, he said: “Anyone can do it – it is all about practice though.

“My advice to people would be to give it a try and with your best effort that is all you can do.”

For any budding free runners, Rob’s top three tips are practice, confidence and a creative mind.

To watch a video of Rob in action next to Taunton library, click on the Youtube video below.

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