Pretty Amazing Grace
We are very fortunate at Magna Academy to have a wealth of sporting stars among our students. You may recall some of our previous pieces and, if you do, you will know that we have some pretty high-end trampolinists - gymnasts with extra bounce.
Well, today we met another rising star. And here is her story.
Grace Walker is currently a Year 7 student and has just won a pretty significant medal. That is so exciting but more about that later, let’s start Grace’s story from the beginning.
Grace started on the trampoline at the age of six. She had tried various other sports before, including football and tennis, but they never felt quite right. So, aged six, she ventured into gymnastics at her first club - Renascence in Poole.
And here’s a thing… she broke her arm in her first trampolining session! But, resilient as she was, she took time out, mended and went right back to her sport.
Grace first competed in trampoline at age seven and, as her skills developed, she needed a more challenging environment in which to continue learning her sport. So, she made the decision to leave her club when she was nine and joined Olga Poole, based in Rossmore.
Grace was thrilled at the prospect of attending the club where Nathan Bailey is also a member. Nathan competed in the 2016 Olympic Games, coming 9th in the Individual. He has also won Individual Bronze at the 2016 European Championships, was 2016 British Champion and took Synchronised Silver at the 2017 World Championships. A real local legend on the gymnastics scene. He inspires Grace, who says she thinks: “Maybe I could be there one day”. We really like that kind of aspirational thinking.
Now, we mentioned Grace’s medal, didn’t we? Well, you can see her proudly wearing it in the pictures that accompany this article. She won her Bronze in the Regional Team Finals that took place on 8 June 2019 at the Birmingham Arena.
And, maybe, just maybe, you don’t feel intimidated by the picture here of the Arena. So, why not click on it to see the image full-sized. Then imagine you’re out there in the centre of the Arena. Everyone watching your routine. And you’re just twelve years old. That shows some real personal grit to go out there, doesn’t it? More than that, to come third in a field of gymnasts drawn from right across the country is pretty epic. You can check out Grace’s placing here, where you’ll see just how very close she came to Daisy Hesketh, the young lady who picked up Gold.
We should add that this isn’t Grace’s first medal win. Over her sporting career she has won… wait for it… 18 individual medals and 30 team medals. We are assuming that maybe there’s a massive Trophy Room somewhere in the Walker household where you can’t turn on the light for fear of blinding yourself from all the dazzling metalwork! Fantastic work, Grace. Your really are a star.
We congratulated Grace on her success and asked her to talk us through the routines that won her Bronze. There were two of them and - be warned - this is the bewildering detail she recounted to us:
Back Somersault… Straddle Jump… Half Twist to Seat Drop… Half Twist to Feet… Half Twist to Pike Jump… Back Drop Half Twist to Feet… Tuck Jump… Pike Front Somersault
Back Somersault… Tuck… Straddle Jump… Barani (Tucked)… Tuck Jump… Tucked Back Somersault… Seat Drop Half Twist to Feet… Half Twist to Pike Jump… Half Twist to Front Drop
Wow. We had to lie down from exhaustion just from writing those routines down!
Grace told us that her Mum and her Dad’s Mum accompanied her to Birmingham to cheer her on. We asked if it helped her confidence, knowing that she had family in the audience. She told us it did but that, just before she took to the trampoline, she couldn’t make out where Mum was in the crowd. It was a brief panic. Mum and Grace connected and feeling much better, off she went to claim that precious medal. Well done, Grace.
At Olga Poole, Grace trains for two hours every Monday and four hours every Wednesday. As if that were not enough, she is now also adding an hour on a Monday to help coach what she calls the “little ones”, gymnasts aged six and seven. We were so impressed when Grace told us that she felt she had benefited greatly from those who had taught her and now, aged just twelve, is already thinking about giving something back to her sport.
We were not surprised to hear from Grace that she trains at home too to refine her skills. We asked her if she had any mottos or mantras that helped keep her focused and inspired to do better. She shared three of them with us:
I always try my very best
Focus on yourself, not on others
There will always be another chance
In July, Grace will compete in the Individual Finals in Coventry. We will want to hear from her again to catch up on her story. We bet you will too. Watch this space!