Wales and Great Britain gymnast Emily Thomas retires
Welsh Gymnastics can confirm that Wales and Great Britain women’s artistic gymnast Emily Thomas has announced her retirement from elite competition.
Emily, now aged 20, began her gymnastics journey aged four at her local club in Bridgend and has enjoyed some magical moments along the way, under the watchful eye of national women’s artistic coach Tracey Skirton-Davies from the age of eight at the National Centre in Cardiff.
Back in October 2016, she brought home three gold medals from the Junior Commonwealth Championships in Namibia, where she took all-around and uneven bars honours as well as enjoying team glory.
Later that same month, she would go on to triumph on uneven bars again at the Northern European Championships in Norway and finish her junior career in style.
Emily joined the Great Britain senior squad in 2017, the year she turned 16, and in the November she was crowned Welsh all-around champion.
Bronze on uneven bars then followed at the British Championships in March 2018 while, a month later, was competing for Team Wales on Australia’s Gold Coast at the Commonwealth Games. It was there she made the floor final, eventually placing sixth, while was part of the women’s team who finished just outside the medals in 4th place.
In October 2018, Emily was named as a travelling reserve for the World Championships in Doha.
She was Welsh senior all-around champion for a second time in February 2019 while September 2019 was a memorable month for all sorts of reasons.
She bagged herself a silver medal on floor at the FIG World Challenge Cup event in Szombathely, Hungary, before winning individual all-around uneven bars, floor as well as team gold at the Northern European Championships in Iceland.
Later that month she would suffer a setback when a knee injury meant a spell on the sidelines. However she fought back and was the first elite gymnast allowed to return to training at the National Centre last year during the Covid-19 shutdown.
Then, with the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham just over a year away, she had started to find her groove again.
After taking part in the Olympic trials, she was selected for Great Britain for the FIG World Challenge Cup event in Croatia in June of this year. However during podium training she suffered another knee injury setback and, after surgery, fully settled on her decision to retire from the sport she loves.
“Gymnastics has always been my life; It was my motivation, my passion and my first true love,” she said.
“What I have learnt is that not everything goes the way you plan for it to, but I’ve finally accepted that that’s okay.
“I thought I’d be lost without gymnastics and although these past couple of months have been difficult, they have also been extremely exciting in many ways too. One door has closed, but many more have opened.
“I’m ready to build a completely different life and I’m excited to see what the future holds for me.
“I would like to thank Welsh Gymnastics and British Gymnastics for giving me the opportunity to represent my country for many years.
“My journey as an elite athlete will forever be cherished.”
Meanwhile women’s artistic national coach Tracey Skirton-Davies paid an emotional tribute to Emily.
She said: “Emily has been part of the Welsh Gymnastics family for many years.
“She has had amazing support from her parents Mark & Leanne and has been a credit to her wider club and community.
“It is hard to pick out highlights, but Emily winning at the Junior Commonwealth Championships in Namibia was just fantastic.
“A memory that will also really stand out for me, was when we were walking to compete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Many of the gymnasts were green with nerves, but Emily came straight up to me saying, ‘I don’t know what they are worried about, I have trained my whole life for this moment’ and she certainly did us all proud.
“It’s not only her sporting highlights, it’s her perfectionism in everything she does, great grades at GCSE & A-levels, offers of a great scholarship to the USA and British universities, but Emily has such a love of Wales she will continue her academic studies in Cardiff.
“She has always felt a great sense of pride when competing for her nations and it has been such an honour to stand beside her.
“Top results as a judge and in her coaching exams, I know she will still be a familiar face within our community.
“Emily, it has been an honour to have coached you, laughed with you, and cried with you, because it showed how much it meant to you.
“I can’t wait to follow your next journey. You truly are a special individual.”
Welsh Gymnastics Performance Director Jo Coombs added: “Emily has been an exceptional role model for the sport, both in and out of the gym, and Welsh Gymnastics would like to wish her the very best of success moving into the next chapter of her life.
“Whilst we do unfortunately lose Emily from competing at the highest level, I am sure we won’t lose her from the sport completely and she’ll be providing her unique skills and experience in other ways for the whole gymnastics community to benefit from. Good luck Emily.”
Emily is now looking forward to starting a psychology degree course at Cardiff Metropolitan University this month