Salford-trained gymnast Willow Clarke-May travelled over 3,000 miles to compete for Great Britain in the trampolining world championships – where she came 16th.
The competition took place in St Petersburg and saw more than 40 countries participate in one of the biggest sporting events in Russia.
The 15-year-old GCSE student trains with her club, City of Salford Trampoline Club, four to five times a week at the Broughton Hub.
She said: “It was so good, I had to travel with GB which I had never done before. The lead up to my competition day was me watching people compete and it was so nerve-racking, but when it got to my actual competition day I wasn’t nervous at all.”
The 15-year-old, who lives in Oldham, had never travelled that far to compete in a event on this scale before.
She finished 16th in the world, beating fellow GB team mate Brodie Hove out of 60 other competitors.
“It was a bit pressuring and nerve-racking because it was my first one but other than that it was a good experience,” she said.
“I had to go to three Lily Shaw training camps and a week camp before the actual competition and it was just constant training to get my confidence back up to where I wanted it to be so when I went to Russia it I felt positive.
“It was so good, I had to travel with GB which I had never done before. The lead up to my competition day was me watching people compete and it was so nerve-racking, but when it got to my actual competition day I wasn’t nervous at all.”
Starting the sport at 10 years old, Willow progressed to a high level of difficulty quickly. Usually it takes gymnasts their whole life to train to a competitive standard, but Willow seemed to pick up the sport with ease.
Did you think you would do as well as you did?
“I did really want to come top 15 but I came 16th which was a bit gutting but I was still proud of myself for getting there and achieving everything because not everyone gets that opportunity and say they have traveled to world championships.”
What is in store for the future?
“I really want to go Tokyo next year but I’ve got my GCSEs this year but I’m still aiming to get there and try my hardest by training hard and carry on doing what I’m doing.
“My family are so supportive, they always take me to training and persuade me to carry on when I don’t want to do it.
“When I started year 11 there was a lot of pressure because of GCSEs, it was hard to balance work and training so I had to drop a GCSE but ever since then it’s been fine I don’t struggle with it anymore.
“I’d love to go to the Olympics in trampolining but if I don’t make it to the Olympics I want to be a coach.”
Stephen Wood, Willow’s gymnastics coach states is proud of his gymnast and believes “we have worked with her for 5 years from recreational to squad level, its been a really good year for her, she has learnt how to compete and its exploded from there.
“I’m very very chuffed, I set her top 20 in the world so I am very happy and impressed with the year she has had such as winning English championships.”