Gymnastics is more than just doing cartwheels

Published August 14, 2011

Yesterday, the BBC screened a feature length documentary following the Team GB gymnastics squad as they trained ahead of the 2008 Olympics. It was called “Gymnast”. It started at the very beginning, before the six gymnasts had been chosen, and followed many more hopefuls as they tried to get selected.

Hopes and dreams, and all that, it was interesting to see the dynamic between girls, their family, and the coaches. The pressure on those taking exams at the exact same time as the Olympic trials, the worry of those who got injured and whether they would be fit in time.

At the age of 15, spending 40 hours a week training, 10 hours travelling, plus school work, plus having a life? How does that work?

Gymnast screenshot

Emotional moments when the six were chosen. A tough, tough job for the coach. Ahead of his announcement, he warned that half would cry, and half would have their dreams fulfilled. It turns out they all cried, and even he needed a hug afterwards.

One of my favourite quotes of the whole thing was a terribly British parent saying: “One day, she might get that Olympic Gold… or one of the Olympic medals.” The unsaid part continued… “or maybe she’ll just get to be there… or get close to being picked…or…”

Really enjoyed the film, and would recommend it, particularly as it might be fun to spot some of the gymnasts and supporting team next year.

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