Team GB gymnastics BEAM on brilliant bronze at the Olympic Games in Tokyo! British quartet of Alice Kinsella, Amelie Morgan and 16-year-old twins Jennifer and Jessica Gadirova rejoice after fulfilling a ‘dream we never thought would come true’
The Kinsella family has a very good relationship with Japan. Alice, the British Olympic gymnast, will leave these shores with a bronze medal. Her father Mark, the former Charlton Athletic midfielder, was a key part of the Irish football team that graced the 2002 World Cup here.
Which of the two was more important, Alice was asked Tuesday evening. “Mine, of course,” she grinned. “It’s an Olympic medal!”
She still couldn’t quite believe that the women’s gymnastics team she was part of had won one last breath. They are the first GB women’s team to win a gymnastics medal since 1928 – when there were so many of them making the numbers, it was more like an exhibition event.
The British gymnastics team including Alice Kinsella (left), Amelie Morgan (second from right) and twins Jennifer (second from left) and Jessica Gadirova (right) celebrate the bronze medal
No member of the team had experienced such a range of emotions as Kinsella. On Sunday, she was visibly distraught after falling from the beam during the qualifying round. Climbing back on that device—her favorite part—was to face that disappointment.
The team’s hopes for the final were in fact little more than a ‘clean’ showing – no accidents – and maybe a top five finish if they went well. But when Kinsella’s ball routine was successfully completed in the first rotation, a weight appeared to have been lifted. She never looked back.
Amelie Morgan faltered on the beam. But as the American Simone Biles drama unfolded all around them, the British side was quietly growing in self-confidence and self-assurance.
It was a feat of unerring consistency to eventually take bronze, with 16-year-old Gadirova twins, Jennifer and Jessica, impressive on the floor and vault, where all four gymnasts broke 14 points to make up for the ground.
The parallel bars, the device with the greatest risk, came last for the British, although Kinsella and Morgan produced the routines of their lives. In short, Team GB was top notch. However, while the Olympic Committee of Russia and the US caught up with them, Italy was unable to deliver on the beam to get past them.
The quartet is the first British women’s team to win a gymnastics medal since 1928
The Gadirovas, whose Azerbaijani parents came to Britain via Ireland, will remain here to take part in the floor final, although there will certainly be more attention for them when they return.
They were initially sent to gymnastics because they were hyperactive and after being raised in Coventry they moved closer to their training base in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Jennifer said she and her sister are inseparable. “Most high-performance athletes can feel quite isolated. We can give each other a boost in training,” she said.
Jennifer also noted how some social media had been challenging prior to these Olympics, causing both of them to stop checking Twitter. “This is a dream we never thought would come true,” Jessica said. “I never thought it was possible, but now it has happened.”
Kinsella, who performed brilliantly on beam, admitted to ‘pinching herself’ after helping secure Team GB’s bronze
Bronze was the justification for a team that some thought was too young, with the omission of Becky Downie, an uneven bars specialist, a particularly controversial decision.
Morgan said on Tuesday that the doubts about them were a motivating factor. “We’ve had quite a bit of criticism, people say we’re inexperienced,” she said. “But it doesn’t matter how old you are and how experienced you are. You are not chosen for a team for nothing. When there was criticism, it was great to go out and prove people wrong.’
The British team was also aware of the US’s own dramas. “We were aware of it,” Morgan said. “But we were focused on what we had to do.”
None more than Kinsella. “I still can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s all happened so fast I’m pinching myself.”