Tumbling Her Way to the Top
We sat down for a chat with national acrobatic gymnastics champion Jess to find out more about her lifelong love of gymnastics, life at Bloxham, and how she’s settling into boarding.
how long have you been doing gymnastics and what made you first want to start?
I started when I was four so I’ve been doing it for about nine years now. I had a lot of energy when I was a child and so my parents thought a gymnastics activity might suit me, and it did! I do acrobatic gymnastics, where we work as a team of tops and bases. If you’re a base, someone will climb on your shoulders and they’ll do balancing on top of your hands or you’ll boost them up and catch them if you’re in a trio. I used to be a top but I’ve just become a base.
How often do you have to train?
I train on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday for three hours, but when I’m doing competitions I train on Saturdays too and for longer. School has given me special permission to leave at 4pm so I can get to training by 5 and then train until 8 and then I’ll come home and do my prep. Sometimes I’ll have to stay up late to do it after gymnastics but it’s definitely worth it.
Tell me a bit about your recent competitions. What’s your next goal?
I won nationals earlier on this year. We haven’t had any competitions lately because we’ve all reset and got new partnerships and we need to train up. I’ve become a base so I need to become a lot stronger now. We’re going to do about four competitions next year. My next goal is to start getting our moves perfect in my new partnership and then we can start going to some small competitions and then aim to go overseas and do some different competitions.
Do you have a particular special moment as a gymnast?
I had an accident once when I was supposed to do a round off, back flip and then jump back and my partners would catch me, but I was distracted and did the round off but forgot to do the backflip which meant I landed on my head. I was very scared after that to do backflips. I had a mental block for ages because I was just really overthinking it and worrying about it but eventually, I worked through it and can now do backflips again. I was really sad when I had the mental block because tumbling in gymnastics was how I could just be free and it felt strange when I couldn’t express myself in that way. Overcoming it felt incredible.
Do you have any role models in gymnastics?
My old coach, Emma, was Head Judge of British Gymnastics and she’d been there and done everything, and I really looked up to her and would love to be like her one day. She was a bit strict and I really liked that because if you’ve got a coach who will just let you do what you want, you won’t get where you want to go.
What’s life like in Wilberforce?
It’s so fun! Everyone’s really kind. I was a bit worried about boarding at the start, but everybody was really nice and understanding. I’m feeling much more settled now in my boarding. I do two nights a week. With gymnastics keeping me so busy, it’s really lovely to have those two uninterrupted evenings here. I stay on Fridays and there are often big socials which are really fun.
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