After a year’s delay, the Olympic Games in Tokyo are about to begin. I can vividly remember watching the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Games while I was still at primary school, and being in awe of the spectacle of it all. I’ve loved watching the Olympics ever since. For me, it’s the highlight of the sporting calendar, and as a family, we will spend a lot of time over the coming weeks watching as many sports as we possibly can, and hopefully seeing Team GB gain a good haul of medals!
Since our gymnasts will no doubt want to spend as much time as possible watching their heroes compete during the Games, I’ve created a short parents’ guide to each of the MAG and WAG gymnasts representing Great Britain, so you can impress your children with your knowledge of who’s who 😊 :
The Team GB men’s artistic gymnasts
Known as the Iceman, James remains cool and calm under the pressure of competition. He competes on every apparatus, and won the all-around event at the 2019 British Championships. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting James at a couple of big events, and he’s always happy to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans- Mr F is so proud of his signed photograph of the two of them together!
The youngest of the four, Joe is already well known on the international circuit. He became world champion on parallel bars at the 2019 World Championships- only the third British gymnast in history to take a gold medal at these championships. His catchphrase is “do the mad ting,” so you should listen out for your gymnast saying this if Joe is their particular favourite competitor!
The eldest and most experienced of the team, this will be Max’s third Olympic Games. Dad to Willow and husband to Leah, Max has created his own Max Whitlock Gymnastics clubs, allowing many more children to take part in the sport at a recreational level. He’s also the most successful British men’s artistic gymnast ever, already holding 20 medals from major championships. Max is particularly well known for his signature move, the ‘air-flair,’ where he performs pommel circles on the floor, adding in a 360 degree spin mid-way through one of his rotations- so keep an eye out for this over the next couple of weeks!
Gymnastics is a family affair for the Regini-Morans, as two of Giarnni’s younger brothers have also competed at national level. Already very successful as a junior gymnast at the Youth Olympics, Giarnni suffered a serious knee injury in 2016 which almost led to him giving up gymnastics altogether. But his love for the sport meant that he continued the tough rehabilitation process, and it’s certainly paid off, as this month he will finally get to realise his Olympic dream.
The Team GB women’s artistic gymnasts
Alice’s favourite apparatus is beam, and it’s easy to see why- she was the first Team GB gymnast to win a medal on this apparatus, at the 2016 Junior European championships. Since then, she has won Commonwealth and European gold medals for her beam routines, so hers will definitely be one to watch in Tokyo! Alice became the target of some unpleasant comments online earlier this year, but far from letting the trolls get her down, she became even more determined to win herself a place on the Olympic team.
Jennifer is half of one of the eight sets of siblings competing for Team GB at the Tokyo Olympic Games, including three sets of twins. As well as gymnastics, Jennifer also enjoys dancing; along with her sister, she passed the time over lockdown by learning new dance routines and posting them on social media. Jennifer has both British and World Championship medals at Junior level, so it will be interesting to see her development as she moves to major senior competitions.
You probably already know Amelie from the CBBC show Gym Stars, where she has been followed by the TV cameras for a while now. What you may not know is that Amelie is also a twin- and brother Finley is a gymnast, too! At only 17, she has already won all-around medals at both the English and British Championships, and narrowly missed out on a third at this year’s European Championships, where she finished in 4th place.
Jennifer’s twin sister, Jessica Gadirova made her senior debut at the European Championships earlier this year, where she picked up a bronze, silver and gold medal. Her natural flair for gymnastics is mesmerising to watch, and her routines in the Games are sure to be seriously impressive! Although Jessica competes for Team GB, she actually holds both British and Irish citizenship, as she and her sister were born whilst her parents were living in Ireland.
The team, along with reserves Jake Jarman and Georgia-Mae Fenton, have worked through the most challenging eighteen months in order to earn their places at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Due to COVID, it will be a Games like no other, with families unable to come and watch their performances, and closed stadia meaning no crowd support either. Despite this, it will still be an amazing experience, and we will certainly all be cheering on our Team GB gymnasts from home!
Thanks to https://www.british-gymnastics.org/olympics/tokyo-2020-home for background information about some of the gymnasts.