2012 British vault and floor exercise champion Niamh Rippin told IG that her role as a reserve gymnast for the British team at last summer’s Olympic Games in London has given her new motivation for future competitive opportunities.
"At the beginning of the year I would have never even considered being in that position," she said. "I was so proud of myself for getting that close, and for me it was a massive achievement."
The 18-year-old Rippin said that not making the line-up in London provided the chance to rest for her unplanned, busy fall competition slate. Following the Games, she competed at the Arthur Gander Memorial in Chiasso, Switzerland, the Swiss Cup in Zurich, the DTB Cup in Stuttgart, and the Glasgow Grand Prix/FIG World Cup.
Niamh Rippin (Great Britain)
"Obviously to be part of the Olympic Games would have been amazing, and just missing out was difficult," said Rippin, who trains under coaches Claire Starkey, Ian Kime and Jo Miller at Notts Gymnastics Club. "But I had some time off over summer and had the chance to enjoy myself, just relax and have a proper break from training for the first time. When I came back to training I didn’t really plan on competing for the rest of the year, but when the opportunities were given to me I couldn't turn them down."
Rippin ended her 2012 competition year by placing sixth all-around at the Glasgow Grand Prix/FIG World Cup on Dec. 8.
"Being able to compete in Glasgow with a home crowd was a fantastic end to the year," she said.
Reflecting on 2012, Rippin said that winning the floor exercise title at the British championships in June was one of her proudest moments.
"It was the last piece and I was last up," she said. "I was so nervous and just wanted to stay on my feet, and I did. It was the biggest relief, but it was also the end of the final (British Olympic team) trial, and to finish on such a high was such an amazing feeling."
Rippin said she enjoyed the recent holiday season with family.
"I had a lovely, relaxed Christmas at home in my pajamas with my mum, dad, my brother Shane and my gran," she said. "We had an amazing Christmas dinner, thanks to my mum, and then spent the rest of the day watching TV and chilling out. Then for New Year I spent a couple of days at my cousins’ house with my brother and three cousins in Norwich."
In 2013, Rippin is keeping her gymnastics options open.
"I’m carrying on with training," she told IG. "I haven’t got any specific goals yet. I just want to see what I am able to do. Outside the gym I want to start to get my education back on track and hopefully go to college."
Read "Bright for Britain," a profile on Rippin, in the July/August 2010 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe or order back issues, click here.