Jessica Gadirova on Olympic gold-medal hopes for Paris 2024

jessica gadirova makes a heart sign with her hands
Jessica Gadirova received three gold medals at this month’s European gymnastics championships in Turkey

Jessica Gadirova says she goes into each competitors pretending she has by no means achieved something – that’s beginning to change into a whole lot of issues to ‘neglect’ about.

Actually, because the second she lit up the Tokyo Olympics as a 16-year-old alongside her twin Jennifer to assist GB to a primary workforce medal since 1928, she has been gathering main medals and data to place herself among the many favourites to shine at Paris 2024.

In simply two years she has amassed 12 main medals, together with one world title and 5 continental ones.

And, it appears, now we have but to see her finest as she tells BBC Sport she is striving to “improve abilities on all equipment” in time for subsequent yr’s Video games.

Nice Britain have by no means received an Olympic all-around or workforce gold – may that be about to vary?

Absence of Russians opens a door

Russian gymnasts will be unable to defend their Olympic workforce titles as a result of their ban from worldwide competitors means they’ve missed the deadline to qualify for the workforce occasions. Even when their ban was to be lifted they might now solely qualify for particular person occasions.

“It undoubtedly opens an opportunity for us of getting a possible workforce medal – hopefully a gold,” Gadirova mentioned.

“In order that undoubtedly helps nevertheless it does really feel fairly empty competing with out the Russians as they’re all the time on the prime and they’re such unimaginable gymnasts to look at and so they all the time produce wonderful routines.”

Russian or Soviet gymnasts dominated the game for a lot of many years though the workforce medals – received whereas competing because the Russian Olympic Committee as a part of sanctions imposed after a state-sponsored doping scandal – had been their first since 1996 for the lads and 1992 for the ladies.

Britain’s girls took silver behind the US eventually yr’s World Championships in Liverpool and the lads earned bronze behind China and Japan.

Gadirova says she has the added benefit of the expertise of already having competed at an Olympics and is assured she will be able to cope with the extra stress of expectation on her this time.

“I am going into each competitors pretending I’ve by no means achieved something and take it as a brand new competitors and it is time to obtain new targets and present who I’m,” she mentioned.

“I do not actually watch [other gymnasts] so I do not get distracted. When it is my flip I simply give attention to my particular person efficiency and carry out my coronary heart out.”

Twice nearly as good? Gadirova hopes twin again in time for Paris

Gadirova mentioned it was powerful not having her twin sister on the Europeans final week whereas she recovers from harm however hopes she shall be again in time to earn a spot on the GB workforce in time for the Olympics.

“We prepare collectively on a regular basis, now we have grown up with gymnastics collectively so it was undoubtedly arduous not having her there however I knew she would undoubtedly assist me 100% there,” she mentioned.

“[When I won] she actually simply went loopy on the cellphone.

“I am undoubtedly looking forward to her, I do know she’s coaching very arduous.

“I simply need us each to have a dream collectively and obtain it. She is certainly my inspiration and I like her a lot.”

The pair, who had been born in Eire to oldsters from Azerbaijan, began gymnastics collectively on the at of six as a result of they “did not cease operating round the home” having additionally given swimming, dancing and soccer a go.

They lastly made their first journey to Azerbaijan to satisfy extra of their household in December, with Jessica saying it was “good to get recognised right here and in Azerbaijan – the extra recognition the higher!” with the nation’s media having reported on their success.

Jennifer has not received a significant particular person medal however was a part of Nice Britain’s silver-winning world and European groups final yr, in addition to the Olympic bronze-winning one.

GB success amid tough occasions for gymnastics

Final yr Nice Britain received a report 11 European medals, with this yr’s 9 their second finest exhibiting because the nation continues to construct on the landmark success of gymnasts like Beth Tweddle – who received GB’s first particular person girls’s Olympic medal in 2012 – and Max Whitlock, who in 2016 grew to become the primary British gymnast to win an Olympic gold.

However the gymnastics headlines previously couple of years have been extra about failings concerning gymnast wellbeing and welfare, with the Whyte Overview – co-commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England and revealed in June 2022 – discovering bodily and emotional abuse inside gymnastics in Britain was “systemic”.

Gadirova’s GB team-mate Becky Downie was among the many gymnasts to talk out concerning the abusive behaviour in gymnastics coaching.

Sport England and UK Sport have since dedicated to strengthening safeguarding and welfare in gentle of the findings, whereas British Gymnastics introduced plans for “zero tolerance on abuse”.

Gadirova mentioned she herself had by no means skilled something unfavourable and that she had all the time had the assist she wanted from British Gymnastics and her coaches, whereas Whitlock mentioned final yr the game was now “getting into the fitting path”.

And on the identical time there may be additionally optimism for much more sporting success.

“GB is getting stronger with the talents that we’re doing and particularly the workforce work that now we have surrounding us,” Gadirova mentioned. “There are many new individuals within the workforce and we have all simply been working actually arduous to make our desires come true.”

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