NILE Wilson’s historic high bar bronze may have been overshadowed by team-mate Max Whitlock in Rio this summer but the Leeds gymnast can lead the charge over the next four years according to British Gymnastics men’s technical director Eddie van Hoof.
Wilson added to what is already an impressive medal collection for a 20-year-old when he won bronze on the high bar at Rio 2016 – the first time a Brit had ever achieved a podium finish on the apparatus at Olympic level.
It meant Wilson has now medalled at every major Championship, including winning double gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, 2016 European high bar gold and silver as part of the men’s team at the World Championships in between.
And while Whitlock may have attracted the main headlines this summer after becoming Great Britain’s first Olympic champion on both floor and pommel, as well as winning all-around bronze, Wilson is set to play a leading role in challenging his team-mate for the limelight.
“For Nile, it’s just beginning,” explained van Hoof. “He’s one that will be really focused on the next cycle and can be that all-rounder as well. This is very much his cycle moving forwards and he can become the backbone of the next team.
“We all knew that he had the routine to win a medal in Rio once he won the European Championships high bar title just eight weeks before, and on the day maybe it wasn’t his best routine but he put himself in the frame and a great result has come from it.
“We’re already moving on to Tokyo, but we knew the challenges of Rio and the feeling there was of a job well done.
“It showed the depth of the squad and everything coming together at the right time.
“We put the programme on hold until January, so that’s when everything will kick off again.
“Everybody has had some time off with a break, had their downtime and enjoyed that success, and now we’re ready to start again.”
Van Hoof was speaking after being named as UK Coach of the Year at a glittering awards night at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Wembley on Tuesday night.
The UK Coaching Awards, organised by Sports Coach UK, is an annual celebration to honour sports coaches and coaching organisations who have demonstrated outstanding success over the previous 12 months.
Van Hoof – who was also named joint winner of the High Performance Coach of the Year – was presented with his accolades by the HRH The Princess Royal and admitted that the recognition represented the progress that has been made by British Gymnastics over the last decade.
“In gymnastics, my first coaching job came straight off the team in 1995 and we were always around 19th in the world, which was good, but to be up there with the leaders of the sport shows just how much progress has been made in the last ten years,” he added,
“Coaching has been my life. I’ve been within the sport since I was 13, I went to Los Angeles as a gymnast myself but I always wanted to make sure my coaching was better than my own performance.
“I wanted to give back to the sport and now philosophy is to leave the sport in a better shape than when I left it and helping out the coaches as much as possible is the best way to sustain that.”
The UK Coaching Awards honours sports coaches and coaching organisations that have demonstrated success over the previous 12 months. This year’s winners came from 11 different sports – highlighting the very best of coaching from high performance to community, from children to disability. Find out more about coaching in the UK at www.sportscoachuk.org.