Glasgow Commonwealth Games double bronze medallist Georgina Hockenhull has decided to retire after major injuries scuppered her ambition for qualifying for the 2018 games.
Twenty-one-year-old Georgina won team bronze and bronze on beam at the 2014 Glasgow games and also won silver at the British Championships on beam in 2015. She has represented Wales at various artistic competitions since she got into the Wales squad at ten years of age.
Welsh Gymnastics caught up Georgina to ask her what brought her to this difficult decision:
GH: It was such an amazing opportunity competing for Wales at the 2014 commonwealth games, it was my ambition to compete again this year in the 2018 Games in the Gold Coast. Unfortunately, due to two major injuries, rupturing the ligament in my right foot in 2016 and then having an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in my left knee last year, I was unable to compete in the 2018 Commonwealth trials.
It has been a very difficult decision for me but having had major operations in the last two years, I feel it is my time to retire.
WG: It must have been a difficult decision as you have been competing at such a high level for so long. For those who don’t know, how did your career in gymnastics start?
GH: I have been a gymnast for 16 years. I first started at Park Wrekin Gymnastics Club when I was four years old. I started training for one hour a week, then over the years I increased my training to 33 hours a week. I have loved it from the moment I started in the sport and ever since.
I started competing for Park Wrekin was I was eight years old, and then when I was 10 I was selected for the Welsh squad. This was such a big achievement for me as some of the best gymnasts in the UK were in the Welsh squad.
I competed in many competitions over this time both in the UK and in Europe, such as the Northern European and the Celtic Cup. It was such an amazing feeling to compete for Wales and have the Welsh flag on my leotard - a feeling I will never forget.
In 2012 I was selected for the Great Britain squad. This was another major achievement for me, I felt so privileged to be one of 15 in the UK to be selected. This led to me competing in competitions such as the Junior Europeans and the European Games.
I have had so many amazing experiences competing for my club, Wales and GB.
WG: Tell us about your highlights from competing in the sport? Any moments that stand out and why?
GH: One of the greatest moments of my career was competing for Wales at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It had been a goal of mine ever since I was 10 years old to compete at the Commonwealth Games. To come away from the games with two bronze medals, one with the team and another individually in the beam final was an incredible feeling. Standing on the podium watching the Welsh flag rise was an unforgettable feeling which will stay with me for the rest of my life.
To have done all this at a home games, where all my friends and family could watch, was so special to me.
WG: What advice would you give to would-be Commonwealth gymnasts?
GH: The Commonwealth Games is the biggest event in the Gymnastics calendar for Wales and to be selected to compete is a privilege and something that you will remember for the rest of your life. I would say just try to enjoy every moment of it as it will go so quickly.
I wish all the welsh team luck in the games, and I can’t wait to watch you all compete.
WG: You’ve had an amazing career, so what are your plans now?
GH: I am currently coaching gymnastics at Park Wrekin Gymnastics Club, having recently passed my level 2 coaching qualification and have my own development group aged between 5 and 7. I am loving sharing my love and knowledge of the sport to the next generation.
I would like to thank everyone who has played a role in my gymnastics career and all the love and support you have given me over the past 16 years.
Welsh Gymnastics wishes Georgina all the luck in the world on her next career adventure.