Well, what an adventure that was!
Excuse the self-indulgence, but I still can’t stop grinning at the realisation I am now a Commonwealth Games champion. Alice, from Sutton Coldfield, a Commonwealth Games gold medal winner. Wow.
It’s what dreams are made of, and mine came true. But to come home with three medals, I won a silver and a bronze too, well… I was lost for words out in Australia, and I’m still struggling to find them now!
There is so much swirling around my head: the awesome experience of being a competitor at the Commonwealth Games, actually representing my country in the gymnastics competition, the amazing camaraderie and the buzz of the athletes’ village, the Opening Ceremony, the Closing Ceremony, the Gold Coast, Australia, the friendliness of everyone. But standing on the podium to receive my medals topped it all.
There has been so much goodwill from so many people that I am absolutely overwhelmed. My family were besieged by messages of congratulations after I won my three medals, especially the gold, and obviously being able to keep in touch as you can these days, I could follow it all myself. It made me feel incredibly humble.
As you would imagine, there have been plenty of media interviews over the past week or so, which is something I don’t have a problem with at all, though the experience of so many reporters crowding around you is something new. But if they’re doing it because I’ve just won a gold medal at a major international event, then they can crowd around me anytime!
But of all the comments I gave, perhaps the one that seems to have struck a chord with many people is my confession that eating pizza and a chocolate brownie was my big treat once the gymnastics competition was over. As an international athlete, there are plenty of sacrifices you have to make in the preparation for big competitions, and like any teenager, I cannot deny my enthusiasm for a good pizza, and yes, I do have a sweet tooth.
That said, I enjoy them the more because they are rare treats that follow the strict diet I need to follow to be at the top of my game for competitions, and trust me, when you’re bending over to have Commonwealth Games gold medal placed over your head, I’ll forgo pizza and brownies any day of the week!
Now that I’m home, there’ll be a short time for reflection before I’m back training. Maybe I might now be able to think of something to say after winning that gold medal. It was an amazing feeling, but I was so overcome with the excitement of it all, I really was lost for words, and actually not sure at all what to do. But trust me, I was buzzing, and bursting with pride and emotion.
I’ve got to be totally honest, and say that I was confident I could win a medal after finishing second in the qualifying, and obviously winning the gold was something else!
I was confident, too, that England would win a team medal – that was my silver, and I was proud to be part of the line-up that included my friends and colleagues Georgia-Mae Fenton, Lucy Stanhope, Kelly Simm and Taeja James. Sure, it would have been nice to equal the men and win gold, but the competition was so strong, and Canada were worthy winners. And bare in mind we’d had withdrawals through injury before the Games which meant that at 17 I was the second eldest in the team! So silver was a great effort, and it proves the strength in depth of English gymnastics.
The team medal was my first, the gold was the icing on the proverbial cake, and sandwiched between those two was my bronze medal in the women’s all-around competition. It was incredibly intense, and six of us were chasing three medals as we went to the floor, the final apparatus. I set out to do exactly what I do in training and see what happened, and if I’m totally honest and analytical I think I could have done even better, but I’m still really proud of myself.
It has been an awesome experience. Amazing. And I cannot help but admit it has whet the appetite even more to be a part of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in two years’ time. I now have a massive incentive, and trust me I will be giving it everything I can to be there.
My thanks to my amazing coaches Brett Ince and Christine Still at Park Wrekin Gymnastic, my brother Liam and sister Gabi and of course my Mum for the continued support. To my supporters on this website and all around the world A MASSIVE THANK YOU.
But the Commonwealth Games has been an amazing experience, and the Gold Coast played a blinder as hosts. How exciting is it that Birmingham hosts the next Commonwealth Games in 2022!
Again, thank you SO much for all your support and goodwill. I cannot start to tell you how much it all means to me.
As one adventure ends, I just cannot wait for the next one to begin!