Fylde coast rhythmic gymnastics star gets Commonwealth bronze after 'amazing crowd' calms her nerves
Lancashire gymnast Alice Leaper, got a bronze medal with Team England at the Commonwealth Games, and put on a dazzling performance after fighting her nerves.
Alice performed with her two Team England teammates to secure the team bronze, but first had to overcome her nerves.
The 19 year old athlete, from Freckleton, said: “I’ve never been to a competition like that before. I was so nervous but as soon as I heard the crowd cheering, all my nerves went away.”
Alice has previously competed in the British Championships and international events, but the Commonwealth Games was her ultimate dream.
She has trained at Fylde Coast Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy since she was five, with support from coach Ana Blackburn.
She’d been repeating the same routines around twenty times a day, for around a year, to get ready for the competition.
She added: “I knew I’d worked really hard towards this, and I went into it feeling really well prepared so that took away any doubts.”
Each athlete performed four routines at 90 seconds each, in the overall final on Thursday Aug 4. Each routine used a different apparatus - hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon.
And then she qualified for the individual apparatus finals on the Friday, when she came 7th in ribbon and 8th in hoop – making it onto the leaderboard.
Her teammate, Marfa Ekimova, won all-around gold.
But Alice wasn’t hung-up about winning.
“I was just really happy to be able to perform my routines again in front of that amazing crowd. A medal is the goal, but I just wanted to fully enjoy the experience and let my coach deal with the scores."
And she said the closing ceremony was like one big party, and a great chance for everyone to celebrate their achievements.
Alice starts university in September, and plans to focus on her studies in Sports and Exercise Science.
She hopes her performance will encourage other Lancashire youngsters to take up the sport. “It was so nice having young ones come up to get their picture taken with me and saying how much they enjoyed watching me. I hope it inspires them.”