Birmingham fresher wins tumbling team silver at World Championships

The GB Women’s Tumbling Team

Fresh from a gap year spent exploring three continents, talented gymnast Rachel Davies is celebrating a triumphant return to tumbling.

The 19-year-old took home a silver medal behind China at the senior World Championships in Sofia earlier this month, as a part of the GB women’s tumbling team.

“There’s always a fierce rivalry between GB and Russia. We both had a bit of blip in the final so we were super happy to get the silver medal ahead of France, USA and Russia,” said Davies.

“Our team was the same as at last year’s competition so we have a close bond and I think that really helped.”

Having recently moved from County Durham to begin life as a University of Birmingham student, Davies is facing the challenge of balancing international competition with settling into an undergraduate degree course.

“The British Championships was literally the weekend after Fresher’s Week which was hard as I only had the opportunity to train twice that week and I didn’t have my coach there,” she explained.

“I also wanted to go out and meet new people in Fresher’s so it was tricky to fit it all in, but overall I’m really enjoying it so far and looking forward to the year ahead.”

Fortunately, the change in training schedule doesn’t appear to be affecting Davies who is thankful to be able to take advantage of TASS support having returned to full time education.

“When I was at home I was able to train five times a week for 2.5 hours. Now I’m at uni I’m doing four 3 hour sessions, but I also go to my TASS strength and conditioning session once a week as well.

“I was on TASS before my gap year and with the S&C support I felt like I was the strongest ever been. This year, I think having the physio on hand at my Delivery Site will really help, especially with injury prevention.”

Davies is now in training for the trials for the European Championships, and has her sights set on at least a bronze at the competition, to match the bronze she won earlier this year.

“I’m hoping to medal at the Europeans in Baku next April, then it’s the Worlds in Tokyo in 2019. I was gutted to miss China last year because of my A-level exams so now I’m even more determined to go to Japan.”

TASS athlete Rachel Davies competes in Sofia

Aiming to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Russian tumbler Anna Korobeinikova, the world-class athlete is hopeful of similar success in her own career.

“She’s incredible. Having won the senior Worlds four times, retired and had a baby, she’s then come back and dominated again. She hasn’t been beaten in about ten years so I really look up to her.”

But if the worst was to happen and her sporting career was cut short, Davies’ Sport and Exercise Science qualification means she’s already prepared with a back-up plan.

“For me, it was important to go to uni as you can’t be an athlete for your whole life. I hope my choice of degree course means I will be able stay in sport though, as I really enjoyed coaching the younger tumblers at Durham City Gymnastics Club.

“I’m really interested in the psychological aspect of sport as it’s a huge aspect of gymnastics. Having sport pysch support has genuinely helped me so much so after uni, I might look at a further qualification in that area.

“I also think uni is great way to meet new people and gain independence. Just normal things like having to do my own washing and buy my own food will hopefully help with my transition into life after sport.”

Failing that, Davies could always consider switching sports since discovering a new passion during her gap year. “I had surfing lessons when I was travelling in Costa Rica and it turns out I’m quite good at it,” she admitted. “It must be down to having good balance from gymnastics!”