Bryony Page remembers the time when she lost everything all too well. She was no longer able to do what she loved most and had geared her teenage years toward. It came as a shock to the system.
When a trampolinist hits the trampoline, their body experiences the same force as an F1 driver. That takes its toll, just like it did on her.
Lost Move Syndrome can be crippling and difficult to overcome. It’s mind over matter, but actually it’s much more than that. It’s wanting to do a move but your brain physically stopping you. It’s like your body is detached from your mind. It can be a scary and lonely place.
But World Champion Page, who graduated from the University of Sheffield with a biology degree in 2015, had the support around her to mount an incredible turnaround, culminating in a silver medal in the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. She became the first Briton to win an Olympic medal in the sport.
Some turnaround indeed.
“When I was 17, that was when it first started being a problem, I lost all my confidence and self-belief in my ability on the trampoline,” she recalled.
“I just didn’t have the confidence to take off for a skill. The only thing I can kind of correlate that to to anyone who doesn’t know trampolining is a high diving board. You go to the edge, you back out, you go ‘no, no, no’, and then you say you’ll do it this time and back out again.
“I wanted to take off, but my head wasn’t letting me. At the time it was really confusing and I didn’t understand why I could do something yesterday or a few weeks ago but I couldn’t at that moment. It was very frustrating.
“The mental block is totally psychological. Technically and physically I was able to do the skills before so having to overcome a psychological problem and dealing with the sadness that you feel is almost like when you have to grieve.
“You’re losing something that you love. Trying to overcome that was really difficult. You go through detachment stages and build yourself back up.”
Setbacks may consign ordinary Joes into the history books. Many would’ve given up and her friends wondered whether it was really worth the stress that she was under to get back to the level she was at before.
She knew there was a purpose to this, an end goal. She knew that if she put in the hours and worked with her team’s psychologist, there was the possibility of an Olympic appearance. Such is the mindset of elite athletes.
Missing out on London 2012 was a big blow and one that “really hit hard”, but it gave her the motivation to make sure she didn’t miss out on a place again.
The Olympic Games are the pinnacle for an athlete, with the whole world’s eyes watching. For some that would be pressure, but for competitors like Page it added an extra edge to her game.
The final was tense as athletes compete in reverse order. Page finished seventh in the prelims, meaning she watched six of her competitors go after her, all trying to beat her score of 56.040. She was doing well until defending champion Rosie MacLennan trumped it by scoring 56.465.
At one point it looked as if Page would finish as low as fourth, but the emotion when she was crowned a silver medalist was overwhelming.
“I have three favourite moments at the Olympics, maybe more, but the stand-outs for me were competing in the final and just after the routine, where I didn’t have any scores yet and didn’t know where I’d be placed, as I knew I’d done the routine of my life,” she reflected.
“Everything I’d worked for had come together at the right time. That was the best routine I’ve done in training and competition so having everything coming together, and for it to finish, I could release every emotion I was feeling.
“I was proud, honoured and that pride was so strong. I felt happiness straight after the routine, as well as a little bit of sadness as it was over. You put in all this effort and that’s done now, so I felt all these different emotions and then I got my score.
“I felt those emotions rise even more. Just winning a medal was gold.”
Her attention now turns fully to the World Championships in St Petersburg, Russia, on 7-10 November as she represents Great Britain in her first major championships since Rio.
The pressure will still be on, but Page has the maturity, drive and ability to bring home yet another medal.