British Gymnastics just competed in Doha at the World Championships and, albeit with a relatively inexperienced team, managed just one medal, with Max Whitlock bringing home a silver in the pommel horse final.
It’s fair to say that injuries disrupted their preparation. Nile Wilson was ruled out with a finger injury and the experienced Claudia Fragapane and Amy Tinkler were also forced to sit on the sidelines, whilst Ellie Downey competed through the pain barrier.
All of this may seem a far cry from the excellent showing at the 2016 Olympics, where Team GB managed to win a total of seven medals, but it’s important to remember that this was by and large a youthful team. Some of the female gymnasts were competing at a team competition for their first time, and for the male gymnasts, injuries have resulted in call ups for some new gymnasts.
Another factor to take into account is the fact the Team GB work very much to the Olympic cycle. British Cycling, for instance, won fewer than 10 gold medals at the intervening World Championships between the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but come Rio they were dominant, as they were at London four years earlier.
Regardless of their performance at the Worlds, which was encouraging in many aspects, we can all be incredibly proud of how far British gymnastics has come in such a short space of time. From winning just one bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics to being justifiably disappointed with winning just one medal the 2018 World Championships shows incredible progress. In the span of just ten years, British gymnasts have managed to put themselves up there with the Americans, Chinese and Russians as a serious nation in the sport.
A further encouraging sign is the promise of the young gymnasts waiting in the wings. At the European Championships this year, Team GB’s juniors picked up over 10 medals, and they continued the good form at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires with a further four. Indeed, with the news of the pending decertification of USA Gymnastics and the potential disruption that could cause for their world class athletes, who knows, maybe British Gymnastics will overhaul the Americans at the next Olympics.
All we can say for sure is that the fact that we’re all a little underwhelmed with the performance at the World Championships shows us how far we have come.