Big interview: Preston trampoline star Jamie Gibney
Everybody should have known that Jamie Gibney was not going to give up without a fight.
The 16-year-old Preston trampoline ace was lying prostrate on the ground after a disastrous opening pass left his medal hopes in tatters at the World Age Group Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Aiming for a show- stopping first attempt in the double mini trampoline (DMT) event, all his best-laid plans unravelled in a split second after a minor error saw him career outside of the crash mat – causing an injury to his foot.
With his dreams of reaching the final over, Gibney appeared certain to be withdrawn from the competition as medics tended to his injured foot.
However determined to complete his second and final pass, Gibney defied the pain and the heavy strapping to finish the competition and earn a creditable top-25 spot.
Although his final positioning was not quite what he had in mind – he was a big favourite to finish at least inside the top eight – his gallant effort was a succinct illustration of the bravery he has shown throughout his life.
A miracle baby, Gibney’s mother Wendy had suffered seven miscarriages before her son’s birth and even then he was given just a 20% chance of survival after being born six-weeks premature, weighing only 2lb.
During his formative years, he also had to defy the school playground bullies, who taunted him about his love for gymnastics and trampolining.
The fact hat he is now one of the country’s brightest young prospects in the sport of trampolining is a remarkable story in itself and what a tale it would be if he was to go and represent Team GB at a future Olympics.
While the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo may arrive a little too soon, Gibney definitely has eyes on Paris four years later.
And competing on the world level over the next few years will only help him achieve his dream.
“I have mixed feelings about my performance in Sofia to be honest,” said Gibney.
“I am gutted about the way it all turned out, but happy at the same time.
“Other people may not have battled through the pain to do the second pass, but I did and it was a decent second pass.
“Obviously it was not the best standard that I could have done, but it was still a great experience to compete on the world stage against the best in my age group.
“My nerves did get the better of me with it being my first World Championships – the atmosphere of it all – but I did enjoy it a lot.
“I think the fact that it had been so hard to qualify for the worlds made it even more nerve-racking.
“I had to get certain scores throughout the season just to get to the worlds, so there was a big build-up.
“When you compete at something like the worlds, it is such a big step up.
“So when I was watching everybody else compete, it put even more pressure on me.
“I have competed internationally before for my country in things like the Loule Cup in Portugal, but not all the best athletes from all the countries compete in those competitions.
“But obviously the World Championships are different.
“You had countries like Russia – they are the big shots with athletes who have big, big skills. It was obviously gutting the way it all turned out because my coaches were saying that I had a great chance of making the final.”
Gibney revealed that the mistake he made during his first pass came as a little bit of a surprise, especially as everything had gone well in practice.
“Everything was going well in the warm-up room – the passes were going really well,” said Gibney, who attends Newman College.
“But my first pass of the competition, I stumbled on the dismount and went off the landing area.
“Unfortunately where I landed was like concrete and I got this pain shooting through my foot.
“Straight away I was thinking, ‘Oh no. I can’t compete any more!’
“Why it happened I don’t know. DMT is so technical, the slightest thing can make it go wrong.
“I think the nerves affected me.
“The physio came up to me afterwards and strapped me up.
“They told me that I shouldn’t compete any more.
“But I had trained so hard and, I wanted it that much that I was so determined to complete my second pass.
“The physios was assessing me and they kept moving my foot and asking if it hurt. I was saying that it didn’t hurt when it really did.
“I was positively sure that I wanted to complete my last pass.
“The thing was almost as soon as they had strapped me up, it was my turn to go again.
“When I stood on the runway , all of the audience knew that I had injured myself.
“So I could feel the tension, but the whole of the Great Britain squad got right behind me and cheered me on.
“I think the adrenaline took the pain away, but I am still not quite sure how I managed to get through that final pass. I did downgrade the difficulty of it a little bit, just so I could get through it.
“I managed to do that, but unfortunately because I fell on my first pass, I didn’t make the final.
“It was my first World Championships and you can’t expect to come away with gold every time you compete.
“I was expecting to make the final and maybe get on the medal podium.
“There were 40 athletes in my age group and the feedback was that I finished 24th, which isn’t too bad considering that I did fall.
“But if you look at my scores throughout the year leading up to the competition, I definitely should have made top eight and I could have won a medal.”
Gibney first started attended gymnastics classes at a very young age before concentrating specifically on trampolining at the age 12.
He joined Jump UK, which is based in Preston, but now trains in Liverpool.
The youngster – who has an older brother called Ryan – admits that he would have never imagined that he would go on to represent his country when he first stepped on a trampoline.
“There’s a move in trampolining called a triff,” he said.
“When you learn to do that it means you kind of stepping up from junior to senior level.
“Once you’ve mastered the triff, which is a triple somersault, you think, ‘Yeah’.
“I remember when I started trampolining at the age of 11, I used to look up at other trampolinists and think, ‘How on earth do they do it?’
“I used to think to myself, ‘I will never be able to do that’.
“But you just progress, learn news skills and adapt that to a harder skill.
“You kind of develop a feel for it and becomes second nature.”
Gibney would like to thank his many sponsors, including the Health Shack, in Lancaster Road.