Georgi Issott is looking forward to representing Great Britain in the European Tumbling Championships - she just doesn’t know quite when that will be.
After celebrating her selection earlier this month and even receiving travel details, Georgi’s excitement was put on hold last week when the event was postponed amid the coronivirus crisis.
The 2020 Trampoline, Tumbling and Double Mini Trampoline European Championships were due to take place in Gothenburg, Sweden, from May 7-10.
“I was one of six girls who trialled on March 1st, for four places,” said a disappointed Georgi. “With all gyms closed, all gymnasts are in the same boat and, like everyone, we’re just hoping it won’t be too long before this is all over.”
Georgi, 15, was also due to compete in the British Championships qualifiers which were postponed last Saturday.
She placed fourth in the World Championships in Toyko late last year and was ready to build on that achievement: “This year was looking like such a good one in terms of all the competitions,” said Georgi, who joined the Harlequin School of Gymnastics at the age of four. “Japan was my first time for Great Britain and I was overwhelmed to be so close to a medal. I didn’t know how good the other girls would be. The three girls - all European - who won the medals were amazing but that’s just made me work harder and I do have longer now to get some bigger moves to try and win a medal at the Europeans, whenever it happens.
With the Harlequin gym closed for now, so Georgi will be missing what has become a second home. “I train four times a week, 11 hours, but that’s not as many as a lot of gymnasts,” she said. “This way is more intense and being focussed over a shorter time I think is easier.” She also coaches her own group on Saturdays and helps out with recreation classes in the week.
Georgi is coached by Elliott Browne, who is second in the world and Nikki Gundry. “I’ve been with Nikki my whole gymnastics life so she’s like my gym mum!” added Georgi, who has been balancing training with studying for her now cancelled GCSEs. She is hoping her predicted grades will take her into the sixth form at Vandyke Upper School.
“I started competing as an elite gymnast at 9-10 but I was quite irrelevant then and didn’t really have the skills to be up in my age group,” she said. “But I’ve put in the extra hours and started winning medals in British competitions.”
Unlike the worlds, the Europeans will be funded by British Gymnastics. “It makes a huge difference,” she said. “I was lucky I had so much support from people and companies for me to compete in Japan, as we had to find so much money, even our kit cost £400.
“Tumbling isn’t an Olympic sport, although I wish it was,” explained Georgi, who enjoys the great atmosphere of competitions and meeting so many different people. “Putting it simply, it involves a minimum of six moves on the track, with a couple - or more - at the end. It’s always backwards, never forwards.
“You’ve got to be strong and determined - and although you have fear it can’t hold you back, you just have to do it. When you’re learning new moves it is scary, but you have to practise and practise.
“I’m the sort of person who loves to be challenged and I love the speed of it. It’s such a great feeling when you’re upside down. Doing this is my happy place and my safe place. You have to be self motivated. Your coaches can motivate you, but you have to want it yourself.”