Jessica Gadirova says she goes into each competitors pretending she has by no means achieved something – that’s beginning to develop into numerous issues to ‘neglect’ about.
Actually, because the second she lit up the Tokyo Olympics as a 16-year-old alongside her twin Jennifer to assist GB to a primary crew medal since 1928, she has been gathering main medals and data to place herself among the many favourites to shine at Paris 2024.
In simply two years she has amassed 12 main medals, together with one world title and 5 continental ones.
And, it appears, we’ve but to see her finest as she tells BBC Sport she is striving to “improve abilities on all equipment” in time for subsequent yr’s Video games.
Nice Britain have by no means gained an Olympic all-around or crew gold – may that be about to alter?
Absence of Russians opens a door
Russian gymnasts won’t be able to defend their Olympic crew titles as a result of their ban from worldwide competitors means they’ve missed the deadline to qualify for the crew occasions. Even when their ban was to be lifted they might now solely qualify for particular person occasions.
“It positively opens an opportunity for us of getting a possible crew medal – hopefully a gold,” Gadirova stated.
“In order that positively helps but it surely does really feel fairly empty competing with out the Russians as they’re at all times on the high and they’re such unbelievable gymnasts to look at they usually at all times produce wonderful routines.”
Russian or Soviet gymnasts dominated the game for a lot of many years though the crew medals – gained whereas competing because the Russian Olympic Committee as a part of sanctions imposed after a state-sponsored doping scandal – have been their first since 1996 for the lads and 1992 for the ladies.
Britain’s ladies took silver behind the US finally yr’s World Championships in Liverpool and the lads earned bronze behind China and Japan.
Gadirova says she has the added benefit of the expertise of already having competed at an Olympics and is assured she will cope with the extra strain of expectation on her this time.
“I’m going into each competitors pretending I’ve by no means achieved something and take it as a brand new competitors and it is time to obtain new targets and present who I’m,” she stated.
“I do not actually watch [other gymnasts] so I do not get distracted. When it is my flip I simply deal with my particular person efficiency and carry out my coronary heart out.”
Twice nearly as good? Gadirova hopes twin again in time for Paris
Gadirova stated it was powerful not having her twin sister on the Europeans final week whereas she recovers from harm however hopes she can be again in time to earn a spot on the GB crew in time for the Olympics.
“We practice collectively on a regular basis, we’ve grown up with gymnastics collectively so it was positively onerous not having her there however I knew she would positively help me 100% there,” she stated.
“[When I won] she actually simply went loopy on the cellphone.
“I am positively longing for her, I do know she’s coaching very onerous.
“I simply need us each to have a dream collectively and obtain it. She is certainly my inspiration and I like her a lot.”
The pair, who have been born in Eire to oldsters from Azerbaijan, began gymnastics collectively on the at of six as a result of they “did not cease operating round the home” having additionally given swimming, dancing and soccer a go.
They lastly made their first journey to Azerbaijan to satisfy extra of their household in December, with Jessica saying it was “good to get recognised right here and in Azerbaijan – the extra recognition the higher!” with the nation’s media having reported on their success.
Jennifer has not gained a significant particular person medal however was a part of Nice Britain’s silver-winning world and European groups final yr, in addition to the Olympic bronze-winning one.
GB success amid troublesome occasions for gymnastics
Final yr Nice Britain gained a file 11 European medals, with this yr’s 9 their second finest displaying because the nation continues to construct on the landmark success of gymnasts like Beth Tweddle – who gained GB’s first particular person ladies’s Olympic medal in 2012 – and Max Whitlock, who in 2016 grew to become the primary British gymnast to win an Olympic gold.
However the gymnastics headlines prior to now couple of years have been extra about failings concerning gymnast wellbeing and welfare, with the Whyte Assessment – co-commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England and revealed in June 2022 – discovering bodily and emotional abuse inside gymnastics in Britain was “systemic”.
Gadirova’s GB team-mate Becky Downie was among the many gymnasts to talk out concerning the abusive behaviour in gymnastics coaching.
Sport England and UK Sport have since dedicated to strengthening safeguarding and welfare in mild of the findings, whereas British Gymnastics introduced plans for “zero tolerance on abuse”.
Gadirova stated she herself had by no means skilled something damaging and that she had at all times had the help she wanted from British Gymnastics and her coaches, whereas Whitlock stated final yr the game was now “stepping into the appropriate route”.
And on the identical time there may be additionally optimism for much more sporting success.
“GB is getting stronger with the talents that we’re doing and particularly the crew work that we’ve surrounding us,” Gadirova stated. “There are many new folks within the crew and we have all simply been working actually onerous to make our goals come true.”