Skills, strength and coordination; flying through the air, spinning and twisting, balances and throws timed and choregraphed to perfection. Becoming a GBR acrobatic gymnast requires a huge skill set and on top of this it’s vital in acrobatic gymnastics that you excel working as a team.
We caught up with 2017 European Championship silver medal winner Jennifer Bailey who tells us more about how important the partnerships are in this unique sport.
Jen, you’re with a new partnership since the Europeans. How many partnerships have you been in and what’s it like changing?
Yes, I have changed partnership since the European Championships. Roxy (Roxanna Parker) and I have stayed together and have now got a new top, Kira (Dunn). Since 2011, I have had four different partnerships for different lengths of time. I have not found changing partnerships to be that challenging, I find that in order to work well together, you have to ensure you understand how the other people in your partnership like to train. On a personal level this can be really fun and interesting, you get to learn loads about the group of people you train with and it gives you a new energy and aims.
You’ve had a really successful career, what have been the highlights and stand out moments?
Throughout my career I have been extremely fortunate to have so many great experiences. Some of the stand out moments have been going to the inaugural European Games in 2015 - getting to be part of a multi-sporting event was so exciting! Also, being invited to perform at the Rio Olympics in 2016 was really fun and a trip that I will never forget. One last stand out point was the dynamic silver medal that we won at the European Championships in 2017.
There have been other gymnasts you’ve worked with retire from the sport, what’s made you carry on?
I have continued to train whilst others around me have retired because of the massive range of opportunities it has given me over the years and the continued challenge to improve and work towards the next competition. I also think that because I have changed partners several times in the last few years, training has changed and I have been allowed to work with new partners who are also looking to have new experiences.
What does your training schedule look like and how does that fit around other aspects of your life?
I am currently training twenty-four hours a week. Alongside this I am doing some coaching at the gym which I have been doing for the last few years. I am also teaching a gym squad at a local school which is a new venture for me and I am really enjoying the challenge. I also have a very small admin role which I do in the morning 2-3 days a week. These jobs all work around my schedule and everyone I work with has been super supportive whenever I have had conflicts with my training. Somehow in the midst of all of this I do find time to catch up with friends and have a social life!
Finally, what are the goals for this year and beyond?
This year I am hoping to compete at the World Championships and then I have a place at university in September which I am really looking forward to.
Jennifer is in action this weekend at the 2018 Acrobatic Gymnastics British Championships. Get your tickets.