Imogen Cairns’ coach has hailed the 23-year-old gymnast’s determination and tenacity after she was selected for her second Olympic Games.
Cairns, who grew up in Winterbourne and now lives in Portishead, has overcome a number of injury setbacks since competing in Beijing four years ago.
And, despite missing the European Championships in May, she was yesterday named in the five-strong Great Britain women’s artistic squad for London later this month.
Cairns, who was out of action for 18 months with serious ankle injuries after helping the British women finish ninth in the team event four years ago, has been selected alongside Beth Tweddle, Hannah Whelan, Jennifer Pinches and Rebecca Tunney in the team for London.
Her coach, Liz Kincaid, from The Academy of Gymnastics in Portishead, said: “We have worked really hard this year.
“We work hard every year – but we have worked exceptionally hard this year.
“With the Games being in London, we had a plan at the beginning of the year. We went to the United States as part of that plan and we have reaped the rewards today. We knew it would be a difficult decision, because the Olympic team has gone from six team members to five this year. But Imogen has worked so hard for this and it is a very proud day.”
Cairns, who has won three Commonwealth Games gold medals, recently finished fourth in the all-round final at the British Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool – the final Olympic trial event.
The next key date in her diary in Sunday, July 29 at The o2 Arena – which will be known throughout the Games as the North Greenwich Arena – when qualification for the medal events takes place.
And, while she has had to overcome numerous obstacles to even get to that stage of the Games, Kincaid played down the significance of Cairns’ recent niggling injuries.
“To be perfectly honest, it’s the nature of what we do,” she said.
“These girls don’t just walk down the street, they somersault and they jump, and I never for one moment thought the niggling injuries that kept her out of the Europeans were going to affect Olympic selection.
“That is why I had a conversation with the technical director and said that Imogen missing the Europeans would allow her to be ready for the Olympics. But it wasn’t a gamble, we just knew it would be better for her.
“You don’t stay in top-level gymnastics as long as Imogen has without being an absolutely fantastic competitor, having great mental strength and being a really hard worker. You have to absolutely love the sport, too, and she loves gymnastics.”
There was further positive news for The Academy of Gymnastics in Portishead yesterday when 16-year-old Ruby Harrold, pictured, who competed at the European Championships when Cairns sat out, was named among the reserves for the Great Britain team.
Six University of Bath-based gymnasts will make history when they become the first team to represent Great Britain in the rhythmic gymnastics group competition at an Olympic Games. Georgina Cassar, Jade Faulkner, Frankie Fox, Lynne Hutchison, Louisa Pouli and Rachel Smith were yesterday named in the Great Britain team for the London Games.