British gymnasts all set for 2015 World Championships


Gymnastics Artistic

British gymnasts all set for 2015 World Championships

23 October 2015 / 09:41

With less than 300 days until the Rio 2016 Olympics, the stakes continue to ramp up for athletes with each passing event.

And that is the case for Great Britain’s gymnasts as they will compete against the very best on the planet when the World Championships get underway in Glasgow today.

GB have named a 12-strong squad, six men and six women, for the event and number one priority is to secure qualification for Rio.

To do that, the men and women must finish in the top eight of the team event and both squads are desperate to do just that to avoid having to qualify at a test event next year.

On the men’s side, there is plenty of pedigree with London 2012 medallists Louis Smith, Max Whitlock, Kristian Thomas and Dan Purvis being joined by Nile Wilson and World Championship debutant Brinn Bevan.

Pommel horse specialist Smith will be one to watch as he competes at his first Worlds since 2011.

The 26-year-old retired from gymnastics after claiming a silver and a bronze at the 2012 Olympics but returned to the sport last year before proving he is still more than capable of competing at an elite level by clinching pommel horse gold at the 2015 European Championships.

And he insists he feels refreshed and motivated after his time away.

“The excitement was always there but after 2012 I really just needed a break,” he said.

“I didn’t know how big and how much pressure I was under until it was finished and then it dawned on me, the magnitude of everything and the weight I had been carrying for the last four years and the build up to it.

“I had a break, saw people competing and realised that I don’t want to waste my time. I didn’t want to look back in ten years and think I missed an opportunity. I’m here, squeezing every bit of juice out of the lemon and I’m loving it.”

The World Championships begin with women’s qualifying on Friday and Saturday before men’s qualifying on Sunday and Monday followed by the finals throughout next week.

The event is being held at the SSE Hydro Arena – the site of last year’s Commonwealth Games – and the venue will bring back particularly good memories for one of Britain’s female gymnasts.

As a 16 year old, Claudia Fragapane won an incredible four gold medals – team, all-around, vault and floor – in Glasgow.

And she acknowledges that expectations are high as she looks to replicate that success a year on.

“I obviously feel a little bit of pressure because people are saying that I’m going back to Glasgow and I’m expected to do well,” she said.

“But really I don’t feel as much pressure because it’s more of a team event. I’m just excited to be out there and have a good, clean performance, that’s my main goal.”