When I watched the Atlanta Olympics, I dreamed of one day going to see the Olympics in person. I also used to scour the newspapers for any coverage of the European and World Gymnastics Championships. I was gutted (and still a little bitter) that I didn’t get tickets for the London 2012 Olympics, instead I took a week off work to watch the Tokyo 2011 World Gymnastics Championships, which had me awake at all hours of the day and night so I could watch online. It’s also when I became a wikimedian creating and updating pages about artistic gymnastics and the athletes, in the hope that journalists and spectators new to the sport would be better informed.
I noted that year, that the next Olympic qualifier championships would be held in my home country. And I got excited. The Olympics was on my bucket list, but going to a world championships was too.
However, when the tickets became available, I was unemployed. And the tickets were not cheap. I wanted to get an all-event pass, but it wasn’t to be. I thought my dream was dead, and I realised that if I didn’t go I would likely regret it forever. So two months ago I asked for a couple of days off work, and just bought some tickets to two of the event finals days.
Standing outside the SSE Hydro waiting for my friend, Lynn, to arrive (Lynn has come with me to two World Cup events) I happened to recognise two men walking towards me. I suddenly realised who they were…Steve Penney (the head of USA Gymnastics) and the famous gymnastics coach, Bela Karolyi. I said hello, and Steve was so kind and asked if I’d like a photo with Bela. I said I should get a photo with both of them. 🙂
We cheered and whooped as Max and Dan performed in the All-Around final, we also cheered on Danell Leyva of the USA (because we have a soft spot for him, and his coach, Yin Alvarez after they came to the Glasgow World Cup). And Lynn got to see Kohei Uchimura perform. And win. Again.
The next day, my Mum (who came with me to the Commonwealth Games) and I went to see the first day of apparatus event finals. She was sad her favourite wasn’t there (that’s Dan Keatings because in her words “he’s got a lovely smile, he looks like a nice boy”), but pleased to see Dan Purvis and Max Whitlock in Floor finals and yelled and cheered so loudly a few people turned round to look! She also is a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing, so she always remembers Louis Smith too, and Louis and Max were in the Pommel Horse final. She was texting her husband as the medals stacked up. And we got to see history made as the men followed in the trail blazed by Beth Tweddle. We got our first men’s Gold medal.
The next time I’ll likely have a chance of making it to a World Championships is the 2019 championships in Stuttgart, and now having met another gymnastics fan who was there on her own, I feel like I’m no longer alone in my crazy fandom. With some saving…it is possible!
But whatever happens, I can now tick off ‘see an All-Around final at the World Championships’ off of my bucket list. 🙂