The four British gymnasts heading to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have raved about the chance to compete on the same stage as the iconic Simone Biles.
Alice Kinsella and Amelie Morgan, alongside twins Jennifer and Jessica Gadirova, have been named to the Team GB artistic gymnastics squad. All four will be making their Olympic debut in Tokyo, but each gymnast has experience of winning medals on the world or European stage.
Kinsella is a European and Commonwealth champion on the balance beam, while Morgan finished with two silver medals and one bronze at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
The 16-year-old Jessica Gadirova reached prominence at this year’s European Championships, triumphing in the floor contest. Her sister Jennifer made history in 2019 by medalling at the first ever Junior World Championships.
Despite their pedigree, all four gymnasts revealed their awe of the “incredible” four-time Olympic champion Biles.
“I think everyone can speak and say the same thing that she’s already just another league above everyone else, and she just keeps pushing that boundary,” the 18-year-old Morgan said. “You never know what’s going to come next, but it’s always incredible to see what she comes up with next, and you can’t watch with anything but awe. She’s just incredible.”
“I’ve never really seen the elite USA team before, so to go to the Olympics, that will be the first time I’m competing with them. That will be a really good experience in itself, just to watch them.”
Biles has indeed been raising the game in recent months. The 24-year-old pulled off an incredible Yurchenko double pike at the US Classic last month. It was the first time a female gymnast had managed the skill in an official competition. She also secured an impressive seventh US all-around title at the weekend.
“She’s such an incredible gymnast, honestly, the best there’s ever been,” Kinsella, aged 20, enthused. “The double pike Yurchenko, like actually crazy, because some men struggle to do that and she’s just doing it in competition, over-rotated as well. I also competed with her in 2019, but I’m even more excited to hopefully compete with her at the Olympic Games as well.”
For the Gadirova twins, both emerging talents who have only just started competing on the senior stage, competing at Tokyo 2020 will be an opportunity to witness their hero in person.
“She’s just won everything, she’s the biggest thing you’ll ever know in gymnastics,” Jennifer said. “Just seeing her there is going to be like ‘oh my god, we see her on the tv’, we’ll just be like statues silent, just like whispering to each other.”
Jessica added: “Not many people can say they have competed with Simone, or are going to be in the same competition, so getting to say that is such a big thing in itself.”
All eyes will be on Biles during the Games, but British Gymnastics performance director James Thomas revealed he thought the country’s gymnasts would be worthy opponents of the icon.
“We feel the team selected has great potential to contend amongst the world’s best and individually each gymnast has the ability to excel in the all-around and apparatus competitions,” he said. “The gymnasts have been extremely well supported by their coaches and clubs and we’re now looking forward to final preparations as they ready themselves to do the nation proud this summer.”