At aged just 11, Year 7 student Tom travelled over 2,000 miles to compete in the Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini Trampoline World Championships in Moscow. Juggling his homework, revision and 15 hours a week training schedule can be challenging, but Tom’s dedication, enthusiasm and natural talent has led to a number of titles and a strong performance at his first international competition.
When and how did you get involved in gymnastics?
I started trampolining at the age of six, although my gymnastics journey nearly didn’t start at all. After playing and enjoying football for a year I was looking for a new challenge. I signed up for a gymnastics club at primary school but unfortunately didn’t get a place. I was keen to pursue it so attended some sessions at I.M. Marsh sports campus and a couple of ‘fun bounce’ sessions at Park Road gym during school holidays. It was there that one of the coaches spotted me and asked if I’d like to do trampolining more often, and I said “yes”. From there I have progressed up the levels of competition to where I am today.
Can you give an insight into your international competition in Russia?
It was an amazing experience to go to such a big competition at eleven, it was an eight day event and for all that time I was staying in a special gymnast’s hotel with the whole GB team.The first four days were used for training and getting used to the environment, and the last four were the competition days. I competed on day three of the competition, and the hundreds of people in the crowd from lots of different countries were really enthusiastic. The prelims (where all the gymnasts in the age group compete their first two routines) took place in the morning, and the finals (where the top eight gymnasts compete two more routines to decide the eventual winner) were in the evening.
How did it go?
I managed to place joint second in the prelims with my GB and Liverpool team-mate, so I went into the final in a very good position. The scores go back down to zero in a final though, so the title could’ve gone to anyone. The landing of my final routine didn’t go quite as planned and I finished in seventh overall, but it was a great experience which I will never forget, and as my coach reminded me, 7th in the world is absolutely still something to be proud of.
Was this your first international competition?
Yes, it was my first competition outside of the UK, so that really added pressure as I wanted to make a good impression on the world stage. The opportunity to represent Great Britain was really exciting and I hope that it is the first of more to come. The next international event that I am currently well placed to be selected for is in December in Tokyo!
Did you make any new international friends?
I made a couple of new friends. I met an American boy who was really nice and also a Japanese boy who I made friends with. The Japanese boy came third in the competition which I was really pleased about. We swapped tops too, my GB top for his Japan top, which makes a great memory of the competition.
Do you hold any titles?
I currently hold the British synchronised 9-12 title, and in 2017 I won the individual British 9-10 trampoline competition. It feels really good to have these titles to my name. Training long hours and learning new skills and routines can be tough and knowing that I’ve achieved what I have so far is a boost to my confidence and reminds me what I’m capable of.
How often do you train?
I train five times a week and finish as late as nine at night on a Tuesday. I train 15 hours a week and it is sometimes hard to juggle school work and my training schedule. I have to be disciplined and use my spare time carefully to make sure I revise and finish homework. Training starts with conditioning (physical exercises for 30 minutes to an hour) and then I either go on to trampoline, DMT (where you run up to a diagonal trampoline and perform two skills before landing on a mat) or weighted conditioning. On trampoline we work on routines, if we’re in competition season, or do technical sessions working on neatness or upgrading skills. I always finish training sessions with some more conditioning – stretching, leg exercises and arm exercises. The club has some really experienced coaches who support me and my team-mates and know how to get the best from us. I love trampolining so much as it is physically challenging, a real adrenaline rush, lots of fun and gives you the feeling that you can fly.
What are your ambitions for the sport?
The biggest ambition for me in trampolining is to represent Great Britain at the Olympics, but this is the end goal and it won’t be happening too soon as I’m a bit young to be selected. For this year, I would love to win the individual trampoline and DMT British titles in September- because that would be amazing. If I am able to go to the world championships in Tokyo in December, who knows what could happen this time round!