Olympic-bound Kinsella continues to carry family torch

Gymnastics - 2021 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships - St. Jakobshalle, Basel, Switzerland - April 21, 2021 Great Britain's Alice Kinsella in action during the Women's uneven bars REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

FOOTBALL and artistic gymnastics are not sports you often expect to see in the same sentence but they are inextricably intertwined for Tokyo-bound Alice Kinsella.

The 20-year-old from Basildon has been selected for her Olympic debut as part of the Team GB women’s artistic squad alongside Amelie Morgan and the Gadirova twins, Jennifer and Jessica.

Daughter of former Republic of Ireland international Mark Kinsella and sister to Liam, a footballer for Walsall, the 2019 European beam champion comes from a family of sporting achievers.

And while gymnastics was always her No.1 passion, Kinsella credits seeing her brother achieve his goals on the football field as one of her main motivating factors.

“I feel absolutely amazing. I was speechless [when I found out] but it was an amazing feeling. I told my mum and she just cried straight away,” said Kinsella, whose Team GB exploits in Tokyo will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

“Growing up and watching my brother achieve his goals and succeed, it’s just made me want to achieve mine even more, so having him there and being a pro footballer has helped me.

“He’s inspired me a lot but I never really thought about doing football. Obviously, I’ve been doing gym since I was a little girl, around three years old, so it’s been my whole life.”

A strong competitor across all apparatus as showcased by her top-12 finish at the 2019 World Championships, Kinsella is the most experienced gymnast in the women’s team.

Her greatest success has come on the beam, though, winning European gold in 2019 - a triumph Kinsella insists has only made her more determined to make her mark on the global stage.

“Becoming European champion has really inspired me to up my game and try and get into the world or Olympic final,” she said. “I’m going to do my best and see what comes out of it.”

Kinsella’s inclusion in the Team GB squad was confirmed just a day after gymnastics sensation Simone Biles claimed her record seventh women’s all-around US Championship title.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist is expected to be the linchpin of the USA Women’s Gymnastics team this summer and Kinsella cannot wait to test herself against the best.

“She is such an incredible gymnast, honestly the best there’s ever been,” she said. “The double pike Yurchenko she did is actually crazy as some men struggle to do that.

“She’s literally done it in competition, she’s absolutely incredible. I competed against her in 2019 but obviously I’m even more excited to hopefully compete with her at the Olympic Games as well.

“I was first reserve for the final [in 2019] and I did the warm-up in the gym and she was warming up with me. I obviously got to train with her then which was so, so amazing.

“She’s non-stop. Once she’s finished, she’s on the beam again and it’s really good to watch. It’s really inspirational and she’s such a good team player, it’s so good to watch.”

Kinsella will also likely have to make do without crowds in the Japanese capital and while she admitted it’s far from ideal, the Essex ace intends to give it her all.

“I do like having a crowd for sure, it does help me a bit but obviously when I’m on the pieces I block everything out, it’s just me and it is going to feel a bit different,” she added.

“I guess I’m just going into the competition like it’s a normal competition and do my best. It still doesn’t feel real, it’s still sinking in. I’m sure once I get there it will start to feel real.”

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