I was 4 years old when I fell in love with Gymnastics after watching Nastia Liukin at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. After some persuading my mum agreed to take me to a gym club, but she first took me to meet a friend of her's who was a retired British Gymnast and now is the Programme Director for Little Gym.
Years later she admitted she wanted me to be put off by her friend's injuries, as my mum's knee injuries through the sport were horrendous and Wendy's knee were also shattered. It didn't work, and after a term working with Wendy, I was doing forward rolls/handstands and cartwheels not just on the floor but also on the beam. Wendy recommended taking me to meet Lorraine Atkinson at East London Gymnastics Club in Beckton, she was and still is renowned in gymnastic circles and can nowadays be seen at worldwide competitions with GBs Georgia Mae Fenton. Wendy felt I would be someone she would be interested in training.
She was right, and at 5 years old, I joined East London Gymnastics Club and was coached by the wonderful and experienced coach Barbara who was known for her nurturing approach with the young gymnasts. She was also a task-master and knew how to put us through our paces and by the time I entered my first competition at 7 years old, I was training more than 20+ hours a week. I was enthralled by the facilities and watched the older girls, especially Chanelle Halford and Tyesha Mattis, both members of the British Team at the time. Tyesha went on to represented GB at the World Youth Games in Australia before seriously injuring herself in the run-up to the Rio trials.
I met some fantastic gymnasts during London 2012, including the US Men's Team who trained at our facilities. The honour of meeting my idol, Nastia Liukin, is still today the highlight of my life! Obviously along with the privilege of being trained by Beth Tweddle and training alongside Matt Whitlock. I also experienced my first taste of the film industry after being one of the children in Peter Pan. I was also chosen to perform as one of the children on the beds (trampolines) in London 2012 Opening Ceremony but was on holiday for some of the rehearsals and we had to agree to miss no rehearsal days. So sadly I was unable to perform.
My first competition was when I was 7 years old. I was due to take my Level 5 National, but a pulled hamstring meant I had to be moved to the lower competition the Grade 14 (old system). At 7, it didn't matter, it was the experience, and I would change back to Level 4 National the following year.
I was nervous on the day of the competition, the day before my teammate had won the Level 5 competition and I was expected to sail through the Grade 14.
However, nerves were never taken into consideration, and my first piece was the conditioning section, relaxed compared to Level 5. Still, I was not just doing the straddle hold but when I came out of it, I was levering up to handstand, which takes a lot of strength and control (in the video you can see me do this on my floor beam at home). Still, it wasn't even that, it was a simple small floor move I should have held for 3 seconds, and I held for 2 seconds which lost me 0.250 off my beam value, and I came 2nd missing first place by 0.150, I was shocked I made the podium, but I was devastated when I found out why I came 2nd I was devastated.
Over the next year, I entered loads of competitions and won loads of medals etc. But I was feeling despondent, I was working as hard of my teammates and even loved the conditioning sets we did daily, conditioning sessions which would have frightened a grown man, but Iacked the power the others had and struggled with vaulting. The one thing I did have the others didn't was grace which made me stand out on beam and floor.
So at 9 years old, I chose to take a break, I had worked so hard for