Oldham benefits from shunning football

25 July 2012 / 16:19

Gymnast Sam Oldham is ready to realise the Olympic dream he set himself at the age of 12 after turning his back on a possible football career.

The Nottingham-born gymnast comes from a strong football background, with his dad having been on the books at Nottingham Forest while his grandfather was also involved in the sport at Notts County.

Oldham, now 19, was signed up by the Notts County academy at the age of eight but also had offers from Forest and Derby.

However, his heart was always in the gym, and the Youth Olympics gold medallist was forced to make a tough decision to concentrate his efforts on gymnastics with such a strong football heritage in his family.

"Ever since [the Games] got announced in 2005 I started thinking about 'maybe I could go to that Olympic Games' so you start putting a bit of pressure on yourself," Oldham said. "When I was a youngster I used to play football to quite a high level. It sort of runs in the family.

"My dad was a footballer and my granddad was a footballer so a lot of people expected me to choose football but for me I had put so much into gymnastics that I just carried on and luckily for me it has paid off.

"So many young lads want to be footballers so it's very difficult to make it.

"My Dad really wanted me to play football. He was in the Brian Clough era at Forest and got close to making it but got injured. He wasn't pushy or anything but I knew he wanted me to follow in his footsteps.

"It was very hard for me to make that decision but the hours I was doing in gymnastics compared with football were just monstrous and at that time I'd already started doing international competitions so I got a feel for what it was like and also I loved the sport as well.

"There's not many people who can do what we do."