After discussing returning to Gymnastics with my parents it was agreed that I would not return to East London Gymnastics Club, but look at The Centre of Excellence in Havering which is run by husband and wife duo, Mike and Kate. Mike is an ex-British Coach and Biomechanic Professor at East London University and Kate an ex-British Gymnast.
Mike, knew me already so there wasn't a problem with him knowing my ability he was more concerned about if I had the mentality to do what was needed to get me back into peak fitness.
Mike, tends to teach in a way that allows you to understand the mechanics behind the body and what the body needs to do to achieve your goals. We agreed to look at where I was now and what I could still do and then it was agreed that I would be on a strict conditioning regime including just basic skills on all 4 pieces.
I enjoyed the challenge of conditioning and still do, so I did not have a problem. As Gymnastics is one of the toughest sports in the world, behind Boxing there is no room for cutting corners, there is only one way to full fitness and it's tough and the stakes for injury are high. Mike corrected little errors with my basic (whilst I had been cheerleading, I had slacked) and as I got stronger the improvement in my basic gymnastic moves were also amazing and to understand the mechanics behind each move really helped!
This time I was also getting more powerful and before I knew it 4 months had passed and I was heading to Florida for Christmas with my family. Although I was very excited about the prospect of spending Christmas at Disney, all I could think of was the damage almost 3 weeks out of training was going to do and the massive set back.
But my mum listened and Mike gave her details of a Gymnastic Centre in Florida which I attended 3 times a week for a couple of hours, over the time we were there to keep my fitness up. Going to the Gymnastic Centre was amazing, seeing a different way of coaching and making lifelong friendships was a wonderful experience. Together with my mum ( who also had a background in gymnastics) and the Gymnastic Centre, I returned to England with no changes in my physical fitness.
A couple of months later I was ready to start moving on, I felt great and although conditioning was still a large part of my training I started to move on with new moves and I was developing fast, I was strong, determined and powerful. It was agreed that I could enter a competition. Havering comes under Essex, which is the largest county in England and the toughest when it came to Gymnastics.
As it had been so long it was agreed that I would go in at a lower level (again), but the coding system had changed and I should have been doing Grade 8, but it was now (Level 4), but I had to get back out there. So the training began and I loved helping choreograph my routines for Floor and Beams and working on the same level as my coach, Emma (another ex-British Gymnast), I also assisted with the little one's routines and loved it.
Competition day arrived and I nervously warmed up, I was determined to keep my calm. The competition started and I was flying and after 4 pieces (these levels include a conditioning set) I knew I was doing well.
Heading to my final piece, Beam I knew I just had to hold my nerves, but I came to the double turn and I hesitated, don't know why and as I stepped from my spin I was off balance and couldn't hold it and fell off. Another fall followed as I could hardly see through the tears, but I finally landed safety from my dismount. Losing my concentration meant I dropped from 1st to 5th, I had been leading all the way, devastated, I picked myself back up and headed back to training.
I completed in a couple of warm-up competitions over the next couple of months and won and was ready for the real competitions at National Level, it was exciting.
As an experienced gymnast, I knew that using chalk on my hands especially on beam stop us sweating and on a hot day it is paramount. But one Saturday I forgot to chalk my hands and headed to beam to work on a move I could do in my sleep - Flick to one, flick to two, flick to two. The video below shows me doing this move (flick to one, flick to two) at 8 years old.
But as I did the first flick my hands slipped through the beam resulting in me hitting 2 beams, a floor beam and landing on a fellow gymnast before hitting the floor!
My career was over, the hospital confirmed I had stressed fractures on my lower spine but the swelling and muscle spasms in my back were causing me to lose the feeling in my legs and sometimes I would step out of bed and would collapse. I would start secondary school on crutches.
The following year I returned to see Mike and Kate and Mike told me I can go and see him at 16 as I will make an amazing choreographer and that I was an amazing gymnast, but will someday make an amazing dancer with my understanding of how my body works and the way I hold myself. So when I was ready, to give it a go!
It would take 2 years before I would be back on feet properly and back to some kind of fitness. But where do I go now .......