Islington girl shakes off double injury blow to win national gymnastics title
- Credit: Archant
Breaking one elbow might make an emerging gymnast reconsider their choice of sport – and breaking both within a month could put them off altogether.
But not everyone possesses the dedication of Islington teenager Tomique Gibson, who continued to train despite her double injury and gained her reward with a national title last month.
The 14-year-old Holloway school student triumphed at National Grade 1 in Stoke-on-Trent – and could pick up another honour next week after receiving a nomination for the Sport Islington and Schools’ Sport Awards.
The annual ceremony, to be held at Islington Town Hall on Monday, recognises sporting achievement by youngsters from across the borough.
The young gymnast’s mother, Jackie Gibson, said: “She broke her left elbow doing a new manoeuvre, then her right elbow literally four weeks later.
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“But she kept going to training and she even took part in the Christmas display at her club, even though she wasn’t able to do any bars or vaults. That’s how determined she is.
“Her enthusiasm is overwhelming at times – sometimes I just think ‘are you sure?’ when her hands can be ripped to shreds after training.
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“But Tomique’s pain tolerance is extremely high. She did a competition two weeks prior to Grade 1 see if she could qualify and had to be signed off by the consultant before coming second.
“The school have been really supportive – they’ve done so much in putting her forward. It’s a huge commitment but everything is gymnastics for her, she’s so focused and I’m very proud.”
Tomique first took up the sport at the age of seven and was spotted by a teacher at St John’s Primary School, who also coached gymnastics and directed her to Hendon Gymnastics Club for a trial.
She was immediately accepted, but travelling difficulties prompted her to make the switch to Camden Gymnastics Club, based closer to home at Talacre Sports Centre.
That remained Tomique’s training base until just over a year ago, when she linked up with elite coach Michelle Guiseris at Harrow Gymnastics Club and she now trains five, or sometimes six days a week.
“Last year Tomique managed an eighth place individually [at National Grade 2] due to a fall on beam but it was also her first time getting to the national finals,” said Guiseris.
“For her to become the national champion after having had six months of injury is an absolutely amazing achievement and proves exactly what hard work and dedication can lead to.”
In the course of her success at Stoke-on-Trent, Tomique took the top bars score of the opening round and finished second on beam, as well as winning the floor title and vault.
In the second round, the Islington girl won the vault, bars and floor and took another second place on beam to help London clinch victory at the team event by three marks.