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The Women's Sports Alliance


Alice Kinsella – the Olympic gymnast from a footballing family

“Growing up watching my dad and brother become the best they could really motivated and inspired me to become the best gymnast I could be.”

Image from @alicekinsella17

British Gymnastics is currently enjoying a true golden era when it comes to international successes and Alice Kinsella is among their leading female stars.

Success was to a degree expected, given her father, Mark, was a former Ireland international who played 48 times for his country – including the 2002 FIFA World Cup; and her brother Liam plays for football league side Walsall.

In her own words though, “gymnastics is definitely harder than football” and while she draws great strength and inspiration from what they have achieved Alice has always been keen to carve out her own destiny.

A target she has certainly achieved.

Since making her major international debut at the age of 16 the now 22-year-old has gone on to achieved Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth honours during an incredible six-year spell in the sport.

Women’s Sports Alliance Founder Jordan Guard spent time with the champion gymnast for one of the WSA’s latest insight features and discovered some fascinating facts about her journey to the summit of her sport.

Image from @alicekinsella17

Q – What is it like competing in a sport where you are team-mates with people you also competing against in individual competitions? You’re friends and enemies!?

“Ha, so before we come to these championships we have a preparation camp for a few weeks so we just get closer together throughout that time and it’s not as difficult as it sounds.

“When it comes to team were together, like we push each other on we, we aren't enemies at that point.

“Obviously when it comes to individual we're still we're still kind of a team who wants each other to do well so we still support and push one another.”

Q – Last year you finished fourth in the all-around event at the World Championships, making you the fourth best gymnast in the world. How did that feel?

“No one really likes to finish fourth, because it's obviously after third and that final medal place, but yeah in my last one I finished 14th so it’s a big improvement.

“I have worked really hard, but the biggest credit would have to go to my coaches who are working with me before, during and after every single International.

“I'd like to give credit to my friends, family, boyfriend, mum and all of them because without any of those guys, I wouldn't be here today!”

Q – You’ve won so many medals, particularly over the last couple of years, with the Olympic bronze, World silver and Commonwealth golds. How do you look back on this time and how would you rank all the medals?

“I never thought I'd come away from 2022 with that many medals or that many achievements, but I'd have to say my first one would be would be the World silver medal as a team.

“Obviously we were third in Tokyo (at the Olympic Games), so our aim was to get on that podium again, but to get second and the silver was such an achievement.

“Second I would have to say ‘fourth best gymnast in the world’ because again I never thought I’d be able to say something like that!

“The I'd go European and all-around silver and then team silver. Finally it would be the gold at Commonwealth and then gold team in Birmingham too.”

Q – So many successes, but what would you say are the main struggles you’ve faced and had to overcome during your career?

Image from British Gymnastics & Simone Ferraro

“Yes, I've had quite a few actually!

“My biggest one would have to be when I was in Tokyo and on the first day out there I rolled my ankle on floor and I tore ligaments in my ankle.

“I managed to compete on a torn ligament because I didn't actually want to get it scanned until after I finished because obviously it's the Olympic Games I didn't want to pull out!

“Coming back to that skill and practicing it again, I had quite a lot of trauma because in the back of my mind, I broke my ankle, I tore my ligaments and the year before Commonwealths (2022) I did it again, but in my other foot.

“It means that when I do it (the skill) I am a bit nervous, but once I've done it, it does make me feel happy.”

Q – How did you overcome that mental block?

“It was very tough like, to the point where I would have panic attacks, I would cry, I would shake when thinking about it before trying to fall asleep.

“I'd have like a few nightmares over it, but I’ve learned that happens in sport and I’ve seen a few psychologists about it.

“My coach was also really helpful with me and my friends and family obviously.”

Image from @alicekinsella17

Q – Paris 2024 will clearly be a target for next year, but what does your preparation look like ahead of your bid to be at those Games?

“We’ve qualified a team for Paris 2024 (by winning world silver in 2022), so there's not as much pressure on us now.

“It means we can enjoy the World Championships (in 2023), knowing that we've already qualified a team, but obviously, we would still like to get a few more achievements out there.

“Obviously in the back of my mind now, but our main goal is whatever competition is next.”

Which for Alice, after the British Championships on 24-26 March will be the European Championships in Antalya, Turkey, from 11-16 April.


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