By Milly McEvoy, Sportsbeat
Alice Kinsella has been backed by her coach to put a ‘frustrating’ year behind her and thrive at her World Artistic Gymnastics Championships ‘happy place’ in Antwerp.
The 22-year-old from Sutton Coldfield medalled at three major championships last year, and those high standards mean team gold and floor silver at April’s European Championships have led to this year being classed as a quieter one.
But Christine Still, a BBC commentator and lead coach at Kinsella’s Park Wrekin Gymnastics Club in Telford, believes this weekend’s Belgian showpiece is exactly what the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallist needs to refocus her mind.
“It's been a very difficult year,” said Still, speaking at an event at Park Wrekin to celebrate the transformational impact of National Lottery funding.
“Not just for Alice, but all the gymnasts because last year, we had three major championships.
“We had the Commonwealth Games, we had the European Championships and then of course, we had the World Championships at the end of the year.
“So for six months of the year, they were on competition alert, they were in competition mode.
“And it was a very big high, especially finishing the year so well, so it's been quite a comedown beginning of this year.
“But once we started to kick into the preparation for World Championships, Alice likes to compete and that's her happy place, so she's feeling well motivated out there.”
Still has coached Kinsella since she joined Park Wrekin Gymnastics Club, with the gymnast serving as inspiration for the young club members.
The club has been supported by National Lottery funding and for Still, this has had a transformational impact.
She said: “The grant from The National Lottery has been very significant. It’s meant we’ve been able to fully equip the gym and buy the best equipment. If you’ve got the best gymnasts in the world, you’ve got to have the best and most up-to-date equipment. And The National Lottery funding has made sure we can do that.”
Kinsella is now a veteran member of the Great British team having made her international debut in 2017, and Still believes her years of experience will help her in Belgium.
She added: “I think her goal will be to really enjoy the championships.
“She's an experienced gymnast now. Your first one or two world championships, you're nervous, you don't know what to expect.
“But she's got that experience under her belt now and she wants to make sure that she really enjoys it and leaves her best work out on the competition floor.
“Gymnasts often train a lot better than they compete because it's such a nerve wracking one minute 30 seconds to pull it all together.
“But that will be her aim, she's been training well, she can do her routines, and her aim will be to try and leave her best routines out there.”
More than £160 million has been invested into gymnastics since National Lottery funding began, with players helping support UK Sport’s World Class Programme – which provides athletes with the best training facilities and camps, coaches, physiotherapists, nutritionists and psychologists.
The funding is also invested into clubs, facilities and programmes across the country to enable more people to take part in the sport at a grassroots level.
Kinsella was part of the British team that recorded their best ever result at a World Championships on home soil in Liverpool last year, as she helped the women’s team to team silver and Olympic qualification.
The Olympic bronze medallist also claimed two Commonwealth gold medals and two European silvers in a barnstorming 2022.
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen