There will be a familiar face to many in Arena Birmingham at the 2018 Trampoline, Tumbling & DMT British Championships as Gary Smith makes a welcome return, not as a competitor but as newly appointed National Coach for trampoline.
Gary was one of our most successful male trampoline gymnasts placing an historic 7th at the 2004 Olympic Games and is now working with Great Britain’s best trampoline gymnasts.
We caught up with Gary to find out more about his career and his new role.
Gary, for those that don’t know can you give us some of the highlights from your trampoline career?
"I started trampolining from the age of 11 at Jumpers in Gillingham. During my 17-year career in trampolining, I competed in 13 British Championships, four World Championships, three European Championships and more than 20 World Cups – but my highlights would be being a finalist in the 2004 Olympics, two times European silver medallist in team and 2004 British Champion. It was great to be British champion, after having placed second so many times!"
Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since retiring from competition?
"I retired from competition in 2007 after the World Championships. Soon after, I applied for Cirque du Soleil and was lucky to be offered a position on a new creation called OVO! For six years I toured around the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan, performing as a cricket character in a tramp-wall act.
"I hung up my green leotard in 2014 and became the acrobatic coach on another touring show called Kurios (back travelling the USA again). My wife and I had an amazing eight years travelling non-stop, accumulating 10 suitcases of our belongings, but we felt it was time to settle down and unpack, which led us to Las Vegas, where I was the show coach in ‘Michael Jackson ONE’ for two years. Now I’m excited to be back to my roots, back involved in trampoline as the National Coach."
Now you’re back in the UK and have begun your role as National Coach what are your initial impressions?
"Although I’ve been away from the UK for 10 years, I still followed every major competition, and it has changed a lot since my time. I am impressed with how much the sport has developed, such as the expanded support network and tools that boost the athletes to greater heights and execute higher levels of difficulty.
"I really hit the ground running starting the role with a World Cup in Switzerland, then a training camp and World Cup in Japan. Our focus has now turned towards training and preparation for the World Championships in Russia."
What are your best memories of competing at British Championships?
"The British Championships was always a highlight of the year. I enjoyed being a part of my club and celebrating everyone’s success and seeing many other familiar faces from other clubs. I will never forget winning the 2004 British and being announced as the Olympic representative at the same event, a very proud moment.
"This is my first British competition since I have been back, so I am very much looking forward to seeing all the talent on show and seeing how far the British gymnasts have come. This will also be a great opportunity to see the upcoming talents and future generations for the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 and beyond."
Be there to see the 2108 Trampoline, Tumbling & DMT British Championships taking place this coming weekend. Get your tickets now.