NINE months on from her medal-winning performance at the Rio Olympics, and it is safe to say that Amy Tinkler has entered a new chapter in her gymnastics career.

She has a new base at the South Essex club in Basildon, where she trains alongside double Olympic champion Max Whitlock on a daily basis. She is working on a new routine, in the hope of challenging for more honours at this autumn’s World Championships in Montreal. And after the life-changing experience of attaining celebrity status thanks to her exploits last summer, she also boasts a new focus as she turns her attention to the next four years.

“The last Olympics are gone now,” said Tinkler, who does not turn 18 until October. “They were amazing, and I loved every minute of them, but it’s all about the future now.

“There’s still so much I want to do in gymnastics, and I’m still loving coming into training every day and trying to improve myself. Gymnastics is in a really great place at the minute, with so many great people involved.

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“You’ve got people like Max, who has won two gold medals, and then there were also more unexpected medals in Rio from myself, Nile (Wilson) and Bryony (Page). A few years ago, gymnastics was still a relatively unknown sport in this country, but I think that’s changing.

“That’s great, but it means the standard just gets higher and higher. We’ve had some new juniors come through into the senior British squad now, and they’re all fantastic. The squad is so strong now, so even just making the team for the World Championships is going to be a real battle.”

Tinkler, whose Olympic bronze medal came on the floor, is ready for the fight, and her decision to uproot from her previous base at the South Durham Club in Spennymoor reflects a willingness to do whatever it takes to give herself the best possible chance of competing for another Olympic medal in Tokyo in 2020.

She continues to regard Bishop Auckland as her home, and is studying for A-levels in PE, psychology and business as part of a distance-learning package organised by Durham High School for Girls, the school she has always attended.

During the week, however, she is based in Basildon, along with her mother, Nora, who has also headed south, where she is part of a training group that also includes Olympian Brinn Bevan and rising star Jay Thompson as well as Whitlock.

“I’ve settled really well,” said Tinkler, whose career owes much to the grounding she received at the ‘Pink Gym’ in Spennymoor. “It was just something I needed to do, and I’ve had a great time ever since I’ve been down here.

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“The training is fantastic, and it’s obviously great to be able to work with someone like Max, who is a double Olympic champion. You can learn so much just by watching him in training and seeing what he does.

“I feel like I’ve been here all my life to be honest. We’re a really close group, and then I get to see the rest of the GB girls when we join up for national training camps and competitions.”

Those competitions have been relatively low key so far this year because Tinkler has been completing her recovery from a torn calf muscle that curtailed her winter training programme.

She opted out of the all-around competition at the British Championships, only competing on the uneven bars, but was able to finish third in the all-around at last month’s World Cup event at London’s O2 Arena.

She was not involved in the recent European Championships, which saw her fellow 17-year-old, Ellie Downie, become the first British gymnast to win an all-around gold at a major international championship, but will spend the summer building up to the World Championship trials, which will help determine the make-up of the squad that will travel to Montreal in October.

“The Worlds are the biggest event of the year, and I’ll be doing everything I can to try to get there,” said Tinkler. “The British team should be really strong, so I know it’s going to be hard to get selected.

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“That’s the aim though, and thankfully the injury is healed now so I can get back to full training. It was frustrating to have to sit out some of the start of the year, but everyone has been telling me that if you’re going to get an injury at any time, this is probably the best time to have it.

“Not only is it the start of a new year, it’s also the start of a new quad (four-year Olympic cycle), so there’s plenty of time to get caught back up.”

With gymnastics having enjoyed a surge of popularity thanks to the British team’s success in Rio, Tinkler finds herself as something of a ‘poster girl’ for an emerging generation of young gymnasts.

When she appeared at the O2, the reaction of the crowd was more akin to a pop concert than a gymnastics event, and even now, she still finds it strange when she is recognised as she goes about her daily business.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that,” said Tinkler, who was the overall winner at last year’s Northern Echo Local Heroes Awards. “It’s weird when you go into a shop to buy a sandwich or something, and someone comes up to you and recognises you. It’s great that they know who you are, but it’s also weird because I still think of myself as someone normal from Bishop.

“That’s never going to go away, but I know how lucky I am because I’ve been able to do some amazing stuff since Rio.

“There have been so many highlights, but the thing that stands out most is probably finishing second in the Young Sports Personality of the Year. Ellie Robinson totally deserved to win, because she was amazing at the Paralympics, but it was amazing to be second in such a big competition. It was great to be recognised in that way – and it was also a great night out at the awards too!”