Gymnastics: Nile’s flying the flag for Leeds at Commonwealth Games

Nile Wilson.
Nile Wilson.
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THERE’S no hiding Nile Wilson’s satisfaction at being the youngest gymnast representing England at the Commonwealth Games. And why not?

But as well as representing his country, proud Pudsey ace Wilson is also “privileged” to fly the flag for Leeds.

Leeds-born Wilson has dreamt of the gymnastics big time ever since he took up the sport as a five-year-old with the youngster going quite literally from strength to strength at Pudsey Grangefield School.

The ultimate dream is to represent Team GB at the Olympics but there’s no disguising the significance of the 18-year-old’s major senior tournament debut in Glasgow next week. And whether it be for England at the Commonwealths or for Team GB in Rio 2016, throughout it all Wilson will be immensely proud to be a rapidly emerging ambassador for Leeds.

Five-time junior European champion Wilson, who begins his gymnastics bid for glory on Monday, told the YEP: “It’s a great privilege to be representing Leeds and I’m a Leeds lad definitely. Representing Leeds is really important to me and I’m ecstatic and so happy that I can represent my country as well as Leeds. It’s my first senior comp and it’s going to be a major one but I’m excited and I’m up for it and I can’t wait to get out there and show them what I can do.

I’ll just go in there and try and do my best in my routines and the results will come after but I’m really up for it. I’m feeling good and hopefully I can get into an individual final and bring home a medal but I’m not getting my hopes too high.”

Admirably, Wilson remains grounded but his selection for the team does not surprise after a superb 2013 in which he bagged 32 medals with 18 of them being gold. The teenager’s arrival on the senior international stage was inevitable. But Wilson says he is still pinching himself about joining the same team as the likes of 25-year-old Louis Smith and 21-year-old Max Whitlock.

Sam Oldham, 21, and Kristian Thomas, 25, complete the team and Wilson said: “I’m the baby and it feels a bit strange as I’ve kind of been chucked in the deep end. It’s really surreal looking at the photos of the team and I am in there with likes of Louis Smith and Max Whitlock and all four of them are Olympic medallists. It’s crazy for me to be in that team and I’m so happy and privileged to be there.”

After intensive training at Lilleshall, Wilson arrived at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Village yesterday and will be watched in action next week by his mum, dad and sister.

“They will be watching everything so I’m looking forward to it,” said Wilson.

“It will be awesome.”

And don’t be surprised to see something awesome from Wilson who appears destined for big things. Assessing his chances of glory, Wilson pondered: “I’ve got a couple of chances and the parallel bars and the high bar are my strongest individual pieces as they are the ones I won the gold in at the Junior Europeans.

“My start values are up there with all the other lads and I can definitely make the finals in them two and even possibly medal.

“In the all round, there is going to be three per country so there’ll be the three from England and the three from Scotland in Danny Purvis, Dan Keatings and Frank Baines so it should be a good battle.

“I’ve also been working my rings recently so I’m hoping to make the final in that and I’ve got the highest start value out of the whole team and being the youngest as well which feels awesome for me. Really, I think my target is to maybe make a couple of finals and I’d go into the final raring to go and hopefully smash it. If you smash a good routine out you never know how it could end up; you could end up winning a medal.”

It wouldn’t be his first and it most definitely won’t be his last.