Rio star Wilson targeting more glory in Tokyo

Nile Wilson was one of Great Britain's stars at the Rio Olympics claiming a bronze medal in the high bar. Now the Pudsey ace is targeting the top step of the podium at Tokyo 2020. Lee Sobot reports.
Pudsey's Nile Wilson.Pudsey's Nile Wilson.
Pudsey's Nile Wilson.

PUDSEY’S Nile Wilson would be forgiven for settling for his lot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

A high bar bronze medal and eighth-placed finish in the all around final is some achievement at just 20 years of age.

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Quite something in the same year his sister Joanne became accepted into Cambridge University with three A-stars.

But Wilson hopes his best marks are actually yet to come with the Leeds ace quietly confident of emulating double gold medallist Max Whitlock and declaring: “Tokyo is my Olympics.”

Leeds Gymnastics Club ace Wilson is still walking on air after a stunning debut Olympics which has been the athlete’s aim since joining the Leeds club when just five years old.

Fifteen years later, the young Yorkshireman played a huge part in helping Team GB’s gymnastics team to their most successful games ever with Wilson’s bronze part of a sensational seven-medal haul.

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Wilson was also eighth in the all-around final in which his more experienced Whitlock took bronze to accompany brilliant victories on the floor and pommel horse.

Two golds and a bronze as part of a mind-blowing Olympics for Whitlock, and Wilson believes he can produce something similar stunning in Tokyo in four years’ time.

“Max has been a team-mate for a long time now and I really look up to him,” Wilson tells the YEP in an exclusive interview.

“He inspires me a lot, what he has done, what he has achieved and I believe I can go on to do the same as what he has done. Double Olympic gold medallist sounds pretty good.

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“I have ticked off the boxes, I have got all the major medals but I want to become champion.

“I’m Commonwealth and European champion and I would like to become world and Olympic champion. That’s one of my future goals and Tokyo 2020 is the one. Tokyo is my Olympics.

“I want to go there and win gold, multiple golds, similar to what Max has done this time and really challenge to be the best gymnast in the world.

“I believe I can do it.

“I am only young and I have probably not reached the peak of my physique and my ability yet in gymnastics and I am just so excited for the future.

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“I am going to go to every single major championships from now until Tokyo and be challenging for medals and build a legacy for myself.

“And just keep enjoying it, that’s the main thing.

“That’s what I am focused on now, just enjoying my gymnastics and having fun.”

Wilson has certainly had plenty of that on his heroic home-coming from Rio with the gymnast attending various awards ceremonies and with more engagements in the pipeline.

Now, though, the Leeds ace is back in training and already sizing up his bids for glory in Tokyo.

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Wilson explained: “I would do six events again and the way it is qualified is on that first qualification day so if I am doing every event then I can qualify for every apparatus.

“But my strongest are parallel bars and high bar so they are my focus and obviously in the all around I need to improve a couple of my scores like the pommel horse and things like that for me to get up there.

“That top eight was very, very close and I was within a mark of a medal in the all around which is not a lot so it’s to improve a couple of pieces and then my medal prospects are on the parallel and high bar, definitely.”

And Wilson is not the only young star in his household with amazing prospects, with sister Joanna heading off to Cambridge University next month to study a degree in natural sciences having gained A-stars in maths, biology and chemistry.

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Wilson beamed: “Joanna got three A stars in her results which has just been incredible as well and I am really, really proud of her and proud of what she has achieved.

“She’s my no 1 fan and I am the same with her.”

It just remains to be argued which sibling has achieved the greatest feat.

Wilson laughed: “You can’t compare the two but we both work very, very hard and that’s it.

“We believe in ourselves and they are both incredible achievements. I am proud of my sister, I am proud of myself and my family is very, very proud of both of us.”