after bagging 32 medals of which 18 were gold, Pudsey’s Nile Wilson knows that 2013 will take some topping.
Yet a place at the Commonwealth Games – and a huge step towards Rio 2016 – would be the icing on the cake for the 17-year-old’s 2014.
Wilson, who turns 18 next Friday, is one of Great Britain’s brightest young all-around gymnastics stars – if not the brightest.
And proof in the pudding came through a memorable 2013 in which he was crowned British and English champion at junior level. Defending both of those titles is immediately on Wilson’s 2014 agenda with both competitions taking place in March. As he will be 18 by then, those tournaments plus May’s Junior Europeans will be the high bar and parallel bar specialist’s last appearances at junior level. Instead, the step to the senior ranks beckons but it is one that Wilson is relishing with the teenager hoping it will be at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July and August where he announces himself on the stage that matters most.
In Wilson’s eyes – merely making the senior English team will put him well on the road to representing Team GB in Rio.
“Obviously that jump from junior to senior is a big jump,” Wilson told the YEP this week.
“For me to compete at a major event straight away would be jumping straight in at the deep end.
“I’m sure it will be tough but if I achieve that then for me looking forwards to the Olympics in Rio – it would definitely be on the cards. It would be great getting the experience in really early.
“By 2016 I will have a lot more experience and I’ll have developed. Hopefully I’ll be at my peak at 20 years old to be at the Olympics and hopefully get the medals. But I think that making that Commonwealth Games team is vital and probably the most important part of the process and the journey.
“It’s going to be one of the hardest things – jumping straight in at the deep end and going straight into a major competition which will be really big and televised by the BBC in a home country. It will be tough but an amazing experience if I make that team.
“And I just hope I can get there as I dream about being in the Olympics and it’s something that you have to think about when you are training six hours a day or 30 hours a week. That’s what you are training for – it’s the biggest dream but I think I can make that dream a reality.”
Last year’s achievements would certainly suggest so.
As well as his glut of medals and an English and British championship, the year featured appearances at the Australian Youth Olympics, the European Youth Olympics, the Junior Japan Cup and the World School Games in Brazil.
“It was the best year of my career and there were so many highlights,” said Wilson, who was away on a Team GB training camp at Lilleshall this week. And Wilson’s 2013 highlights were richly deserved for a teenager who certainly puts in the ground work in order to give him every chance of achieving his long term dream of stepping out in Rio.
All-around ace Wilson trains six days a week at the City Of Leeds Gymnastics Club – for six hours on five of the days and for three hours on the other. And all this whilst still continuing his education undertaking BTECs in Sport and Media at Pudsey Grangefield School. The former Farsley Farfield Primary pupil does at least get one day off – a Saturday – though unsurprisingly even that is sport orientated.
Away from gymnastics, a part-time passion for golf at Headingley Gold Club is developing and unsurprisingly he’s proving rather good at it – much to dad Neil’s frustration.
“I just have the one day off which is Saturday but on Saturday I actually play golf with my dad,” said Wilson.
“I’m into my golf – I love it. I’ve beaten him a few times as well! My dad plays off a handicap of four but he’s been playing for years whereas obviously I haven’t. I’m off 25 at the minute but that will be coming down as I’m definitely getting better.”
A theme very much echoed by his blossoming gymnastics career.