Second year student and artistic gymnast Kelly Simm represented Team GB at the World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow in October this year, where they won their first ever world team final medal. Kelly, who is in her second year of studying BSc Applied Sports Science at Solent and a member of the University’s High Performance Academy, was selected alongside five of Britain’s best gymnasts.
We spoke to Kelly to find out how it felt to win bronze with Team GB, how she puts aside her nerves and how she is preparing for Rio 2016 trials.
How did it feel to make history at the World Gymnastics Championships with Team GB?
I don’t think it has fully sunk in for any of us. It’s such a major achievement, and to be part of the team that won the first ever team medal at a World Championship is crazy! It shows how far British gymnastics has come over the years and I’m so proud that my coaches are I were able to be a part of it!
How much training went in to your performances?
So much training goes into our performances. It’s crazy to think that all the hours we put in comes down to mere minutes of performances! Because these worlds were so important we had our trials very early, and then we were at Lilleshall, our national centre, for five weeks of intense training before we even headed out to Glasgow.
How do you put aside your nerves and focus before you compete?
We were all very nervous, especially before the first competition we did, because you don’t really know what to expect. However, once we started competing the nerves reduced and we were all cheering each other on all the way through, which really helps.
What do you eat for breakfast on the morning of a competition like Glasgow?
Haha! Our competition was in the evening so luckily it didn’t affect breakfast. I don’t like eating too close to competing! We always try to have a bigger breakfast and then a smaller lunch and dinner. I had scrambled egg on toast and natural yogurt with blueberries.
After the team’s superb performance at Glasgow, you have now booked a team slot for Rio 2016. How did you feel upon hearing the news?
That was our main aim before these worlds; to qualify a team for the Olympic Games next year. We had to come in the top eight teams to qualify a team of five girls to the Olympics next year, so to do that was a big relief. However, no one’s individual place is guaranteed so we will start the trials again next year along with all the other girls in the GB squad.
What has the response been like from friends, family and your gymnastics club, Dynamo?
Everyone has been so supportive and we’ve all received so many congratulations messages from everyone, including the prime minister! My parents and grandparents came out to Glasgow to watch me compete, which was lovely, and I went into Dynamo the day after I got home to see everyone and they were all so excited about the result. It’s always great to be back to the gym and see everyone. My friends have also been amazing while I’ve been away; I hadn’t seen anyone apart from my teammates for about three months as I’ve constantly been away, but they have all been so understanding and I talk to them all the time when I’m away. It’s so nice to be able to see them all now, I can completely forget about gymnastics when I’m with them and do normal things!
Will your training routine change now to prepare you for Rio 2016?
Trials for Rio will begin next year, so for the remainder of this year I will be working with my coaches on gaining new skills and improving execution on my gymnastics. Then next year will be about trying to get those new skills into routines for the competitions and trials.
How did your relationship grow with the Team GB girls after going through the competition together?
We are all very close and have been together for the five weeks of training before Glasgow, so we were already so close. However, when you go through experiences like this it creates memories to last forever and we will all definitely remember this and be talking about it for a long time to come.
What are you up to now that the competition is over?
I have been given a week off gymnastics, so I will be getting caught up with university as I completely missed the first five weeks due to the World Championships! I have also got the chance to do some interviews and things and then will be spending some time with my family and catching up with friends. Then it will be back to normal with training and university next week.
Are you looking forward to getting stuck into your second year?
Yes, I’m looking forward to getting caught up and back to normal again with university and being able to see my friends here. I have split my second year in half so it will take me two years instead of one, which should hopefully make things easier with all my training. It should make it more enjoyable and not too stressful trying to juggle both!