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Jennifer Nesbitt

Jennifer Nesbitt

Commonwealth Games gymnast Lauryn Carpenter has announced her decision to retire from competitive rhythmic gymnastics.

Newport-born Lauryn, 17, who hails from Treowen, began her journey in rhythmic aged 10 at Valleys Gymnastics Academy, before switching to Llanelli Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy – and then the guidance of national coach Nia Evans.

She would go on to achieve her goal of competing at the Commonwealth Games when she represented Team Wales in Birmingham this past summer.

“Those couple of weeks I spent in Birmingham were something I would give anything to do all over again,” said Lauryn.

“I was over the moon to first have been chosen and then so proud to be there to represent Team Wales.

“It was such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and has given me an experience to remember for life.

“To compete in the Commonwealth Games had been a very big goal for me over the past few years, the drive it gave me to push myself harder in training almost every day.

Lauryn Carpenter competing at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Pic: Ewan Bootman 

“I always wanted to make myself better.

“I think my parents were more proud than I could ever be of myself, as they have watched me and supported me through the challenges of sport over the years. I am also pretty sure my sister was in tears halfway through my first performance at the Games.

“Looking back, I wish I could have the chance to do it all over again, with more confidence in myself, and a better run-up and avoiding any injury or illness so close to competing.”

Lauryn, who turns 18 on January 2nd, says a combination of factors, including injury and rhythmic gymnastics not featuring at the 2026 Games, all played a part in her own decision to call it a day.

She was, though, keen to pay tribute to those in particular who have helped her along the way to realise her ambition.

“I would love to take the chance to thank my coach, Nia, as she always did the best for us,” continued Lauryn.

“I would never have been able to achieve what I have without her support and knowledge, even on the days where I couldn’t believe in myself, she was there to support me.

“My physios, Beth and Sian, also aided me in tougher times of the sport, not only helping me through injury and preventing it, but also being there for me and helping me feel like a real person on the days I would get caught up in my own world of stressing myself out.

“Finally my mum and dad – who could see how much the sport meant to me and made sacrifices to help me achieve what I wanted.”

Lauryn Carpenter, centre, pictured with performance director Jo Coombs (left), Gemma Frizelle, Elizabeth Popova and national coach Nia Evans ahead of the opening ceremony for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. 

Lauryn now plans to return to her studies, having put them on hold at the beginning of the year to fully focus on the build up to Commonwealth Games, while also hopes to coach and inspire the next generation of Welsh rhythmic gymnasts to enjoy the sport.

Rhythmic Head National Coach Nia Evans said: “Lauryn is a very bright and hard-working gymnast, she was always asking questions to improve her knowledge and decision making, on and off the carpet.

“She had a goal to make the Commonwealth Games team and really pushed herself with an unwavering work ethic to achieve it.

“I was very proud to have Lauryn as part of the team and thought she did a great job.

“I really hope to keep Lauryn as part of our Rhythmic community in coaching and judging roles as she still has much more to offer the sport.”

Welsh Gymnastics Performance Director Jo Coombs added: “Lauryn has been a great ambassador for the rhythmic programme and an inspiration to all that hard work and commitment pays off.

“Whilst we are sad Lauryn has chosen to no longer compete, she would be a welcome addition to coaching. She certainly has a great deal of experience the younger gymnasts will benefit from.”

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