BISHOP Auckland’s Amy Tinkler has already been crowned Junior British Gymnastics champion this year, but there is more to come for the young star according to her coach Nicola Preston.
Amy, who is still just 14-years-old, trains at South Durham Gymnastics Club under coaches Preston and Rachael Wright, and has just been selected to compete for the Junior European Team in Sofia, Bulgaria, next week as part of a strong squad aiming to win the first team medal in Great British history at the event.
Tinkler’s long term goal is to compete in Rio with the best in the world at the 2016 Olympic Games, and Preston revealed the teenager is impressing wherever she goes.
“We’re all keeping our feet on the ground,” Preston said. “Amy definitely has those goals and the potential to make it to Rio but we are taking it one step at a time.”
Amy’s best technical attribute is her power, which enabled her to become champion on the floor, but her mental stability within the sport is impressive at such a young age. At The British Championships in Liverpool, the national coaches were keen to comment on how she looked in control ‘from start to finish’.
Nicola said: “The floor and the vault are her best pieces. She is British champion on the floor and the aim is for her to reach the top eight in Europe on this apparatus at the European Championships.
“She does such dynamic floor tumbles with ease that makes her the best in the country, so when she performs everyone is eager to watch.”
She added: “The vault is difficult too, only three junior girls in the country are able to perform this. Amy’s best attribute is definitely her power, but she has excellent competitive spirit and nerves of steel.”
An obstacle for many athletes can be their attitude and mental stability in terms of handling pressure, but Nicola firmly believes everything is in place for Amy to succeed on every level.
“She has a brilliant attitude, especially for her age,” she said. “One of the most important things is that she absolutely loves gymnastics. As a young girl, she’s fairly quiet and unassuming, but when she goes out on the floor she’s an absolute animal.
“She’s had a lot of obstacles to overcome but she works so hard and she’s at a really good place right now, everything is in place for her to be able to succeed.”
Just weeks after winning her British title, Tinkler came second in a five-way international in Germany and her success was rewarded further when she received a call-up to the junior European team that will compete at the 2014 Junior European Championships in Bulgaria.
In February, Amy was one of three girls from South Durham to travel to Texas to compete against some of the world’s top rising stars at the prestigious WOGA Classic event.
The 14-year-old performed clean routines on the vault, asymmetric bars, balance beam and floor to take silver in the all-around competition. The event boosted her chances of qualifying for the Junior European squad, but would not have been possible without the support of her school.
The team around her have to have a partnership and work together, and she’s lucky because her parents, the club, and even her school work so well to give her the support she needs.
“I’m particularly grateful to Amy’s school, Durham High,” Preston said. “They allow her the time off that she needs to compete and for squad training at Lilleshall, where she trains for a week at a time every month.
“By the time Rio comes around, she’ll be a senior gymnast, so all we can do is to keep her fit and continue to work hard and what will be what will be. Every athlete needs enormous support if they are to succeed and fortunately Amy has that.
“It makes for a busy schedule, with training squads and competitions nearly every weekend, but with the Rio Olympics and more round the corner, it’s hoped that the sacrifice will make the fairytale come true.”
South Durham has produced countless successes of late, in what has been an impressive year. The club currently has eight girls, including Amy, named in national squads at different ages, with 15-year-old Jade Armstrong selected for the senior squad.
Nicola said: “The club has had a fantastic year. Amy and her teammates have had massive success and we’ve got more gymnasts on the national squads than any other club in the country, which we are really proud of.”
The club is open to all ages and abilities and has a program to suit everyone. The club also has a new free-running class for boys age 7+ on a Monday evening. For more information visit www.southdurhamgym.co.uk or call the gym on 01388 811877.