Georgia-Mae Fenton knows more than most about competing at the British Championships at Echo Arena. Her first competition experience of the event came as a nervous 12-year-old dreaming one day of battling for the prestigious senior titles.
Now 17, Georgia-Mae has established herself in the Great Britain ranks and will be aiming to wow the crowds, and hopefully be amongst the medals, at the 2018 championships which get underway this weekend.
Georgia-Mae, do you remember that first experience of the British Championships?
"Definitely! My first memories of the British Championships are of walking in to the arena and the whole crowd roaring and me just being a mixture of overwhelmed and excited at the same time. My first British was in 2013 when I was 12 in the espoir event, so to be that age and walk into the Echo Arena was a really big moment for me. I was competing in the same arena as one of my heroes, Becky Downie, it was incredible.
"Another of my heroes was definitely Beth Tweddle, particularly on bars. I remember watching her routines at the British Championships and thinking I want to be unique like she is. I remember the crowd roaring for her routine and them waiting for certain skills. I’m starting to get that feeling now for my routine which is amazing."
Now you’re a senior gymnast, how does it feel?
"From my first British Championship experience I always dreamt of then making it to senior level, competing at the major championships and competing for the senior British titles. That was always the aim from the very beginning. I remember it was quite scary in my first year as a senior; having been the kid looking up to amazing gymnasts like Becky I was then competing against them. I was a bit frightened but also so inspired and motivated. It’s hard to get my head around the fact that I am now at this level and there will maybe be some young people in the competition or in the crowd that now look up to me, that feels very special. This has always been my dream so it’s still kind of ‘wow’ I’m here."
How much has last year’s World Championship experience helped you?
"Competing at the World Championships last year was an amazing experience for me and one that really helped. The build-up of training, using different equipment, travelling, the whole experience was incredible and I learnt a lot. In the competition itself I wasn’t too nervous which I was happy about as I knew I’d put all the work in and was confident in my routines. The Worlds definitely motivated me, I came back ready to push on even more and make sure that 2018 is even better! To keep on improving I have to train a lot. I train 5 days a week for about 32 hours so it’s pretty full on. I go to college once a week where I study sports nutrition, coaching and development. It’s a lot of work but it’s definitely all worth it."
What are your hopes for this year?
"For the 2018 British Championships my aim is to complete a clean all-around competition and hopefully pick up some medals. People know my bars routine in particular which is great but I’d like to add more to that collection and am always looking to improve on all apparatus. I love the atmosphere at the British Championships. I like to wave to people in the crowd and the noise, particularly when you’re battling through a routine, can really make the difference. If I hear people shouting for me then I want to do well for them and it pushes me on so I hope everyone cheers!"
See Georgia-Mae in action this weekend. Get your last minute tickets.