After eight weeks of rehabilitation, I have finally made it back onto the winner’s podium in an international competition! In my first competitions post-injury, I have travelled to both Maribor in Slovenia and Ghent in Belgium, where I competed in the Challenger Cup in both nations. In my first competition in Maribor, I had entered myself into three apparatus – Pommel, Parallel Bars and High Bar – and I always knew that this was going to be a huge test on my fitness and mental strength as I have to prove my fitness ahead of the final team selection for the Olympics.
In qualifications, my first apparatus was Pommels, and after a nervous wait I was the last of 32 competitors. Everything was going really well, and I had executed a near-perfect routine until it come to my dismount, where a major error downgraded my routine from a start value of 6.7 down to 5.4 to give a finish score of 13.4, placing me in the 12th position. Next up was Parallel Bars, and once more I had executed a near-perfect routine until it came to my dismount yet again! I fell on my landing to give me a score of 13.975, placing me in the 11th position.
My final apparatus was High Bar, which is not one of my strongest apparatus, but was always going to be a good test on my fitness. It turned out to be my best performance, and I recorded a score of 14.700, placing me in 5th position. It also qualified me for my FIRST EVER apparatus final on High Bar! The following day I continued my good form in the High Bar final, and finished in 5th position with a score of 14.425.
The following weekend, I had moved on to Ghent in Belgium where I had entered myself into four apparatus – Rings, Pommel, Parallel Bars and High Bar. This time, I had started on Rings and a new routine. Yet again, I executed a near perfect routine until it came to my dismount, where I fell on my landing giving me a score of 13.325! Is that deja vu or what? Argh, I was so annoyed with myself! But deep down I knew I just needed more competition experience. I then moved onto Pommel and executed a very good routine that saw me placed 3rd for the final with a score of 15.275.
Next up was Parallel Bars, only this time I made a major error mid-routine that saw my start value downgraded again and I finished with a score of 14.250. At least I nailed my landing this time which is kind of positive! My final apparatus was High Bar, and again I had executed a very good routine posting a score of 14.525! I couldn’t believe I had actually qualified me for the High Bar final yet again! It was right up to the very last competitor, who knocked me down to 9th position and just out of the final! D’oh!
The following day saw me in a very strong Pommel Final, where I executed an excellent routine and posted a score of 15.375 which placed me second behind China’s Zhang Hongtao, but ahead of Australia’s Prashath Sellathurai, and my first podium medal post-injury.
Now that I have proven my fitness, over the next two weeks I will be trying to get some more consistency in to my routines ahead of the British Championships in Liverpool, which will also be the final team selection for the Olympics. So wish me luck!