‘Olympics is a dream come true for all of us’ says coach of Aylesbury’s twin gymnasts
Perfect start by footballer Ellen White with two goals in Team GB's win over Chile
Aylesbury will be watching and supporting their Olympians on the world’s stage this week in Tokyo 2020.
At the age of just 16, for twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova selection to Team GB’s women’s artistic gymnastics quartet is an incredible achievement in itself.
After countless hours of training at Aylesbury Gymnastics Academy, coached by Joshua and Molly Richardson the girls will be proud to be inspiring young gymnasts to work hard and chase their dreams.
For everyone supporting Jessica and Jennifer, who have just finished at Aylesbury Vale Academy, alarm clocks will be set for when competition begins in the early hours of Sunday, with qualification.
And while coach Josh is out in Japan with them, sister Molly doesn’t know how she is going to bear to watch them on television. “The England football was bad enough!” she said.
“Because I know how they are in training, I’ll know what emotions they are feeling and what they are thinking. But at the same time as being slightly nervous I’ll be so excited and can’t wait to see them.
“There’s no expectations on them so we have just said go out and be the best versions of yourselves that you can be and enjoy the experience.
“Had it not been for Covid delaying the games a year, they may not have had this chance.
“I feel like I’m in a dream - it’s a dream come true for us all and so exciting.
Molly remembers the first time Jennifer and Jessica arrived at the academy with their mother not long after they moved to Aylesbury.
“It must have been about four years ago and they were so little,” she said. “They had a trial, but they hadn’t been in a gym for a while, so had to build up their strength, flexibility and core foundations.
“But there was definitely something special about them, a spark, especially with them being twins and Josh and I being brother and sister.
“It went from there and they’ve been with us ever since, training Monday to Friday.”
And after the first few sessions Molly has never had any trouble telling the identical twins apart! “I see more of them than my own family, so I should know them!” she said.
“To be at international level is very demanding. They are such hard workers they deserve every success. They are very special girls.
“Their journey has been crazy and so inspiring for all the younger gymnasts. They are absolutely in awe of them.
“Their selection has lifted everyone’s spirits - although the little ones haven’t seen them since the news was announced as the twins went straight to the preparation camp at Lillishall.”
The academy are planning a welcome back celebration next month. In the meantime, everyone will be wishing them luck as they watch on television.
The women’s team final is on Tuesday, July 27; all-round final on Thursday, July 29; vault and uneven bars finals on Sunday, August 1; floor exercise final on Monday, August 2 and balance beam final on Tuesday, August 3.
And double Olympian Ellen White, seeking glory with the women’s football team, will be building on her experience in London 2012, having already made a fantastic start in Tokyo by scoring both goals in Great Britain’s opening 2-0 win over Chile on Wednesday, ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony.
Nine years ago, Team GB topped their group with three wins from three – including that famous 1-0 triumph over Brazil at Wembley – but fell at the quarter-final stage to Canada, a team they will face again next week.
The 32-year-old striker is joined by ten of her Manchester City team mates in the 18-strong squad.
A former pupil at The Grange School, Aylesbury she has played nearly 100 times for England since her 2010 debut.
Team GB will be continuing their Olympic journey against hosts Japan on Saturday, July 24, ko 11.30am, also in Sapporo and Canada (Tuesday, July 27, ko 12noon in Kashima).
Should they progress, the quarter-finals will take place on Friday, July 30, semi-finals on Monday, August 2 and final on Thursday, August 6.