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IG Online Interview: Luke Carson (Ireland)
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IG Online's traditional coverage of Irish gymnastics on St. Patrick''s Day continues with this interview with Irish gymnast Luke Carson.

IG Online's traditional coverage of Irish gymnastics on St. Patrick's Day continues with this interview with Irish gymnast Luke Carson, who optimistically aims for 2014's major international competitions less than a year after he suffered a career-threatening leg injury.

The 24-year-old Carson, who hails from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, represents Ireland in FIG competitions and Northern Ireland at events such as the Commonwealth Games. Since January 2010 he has been training under coach Paul Hall at Huntingdon Gymnastics Club in England, where his teammates include three-time Olympic medalist Louis Smith and 2009 World all-around silver medalist Dan Keatings.

Carson's younger sister, Bethany, is a swimmer who has competed at the World University Games, Commonwealth Games and European championships.

After fracturing his left tibia in September 2011, Carson returned to top form by April 2013, when he finished a respectable 34th place all-around in qualifications at the Europeans in Moscow. Last September he again fractured his left tibia, this time on a vaulting take-off.

Doctors advised he might not return to gymnastics, but the defiant Carson is determined to not only prove them wrong but also prove himself anew at the international level. His goals for 2014 include the Europeans in May in May, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in summer and the world championships in Nanning in October.

In this IG Online interview, Carson reveals the challenges he faces as he resumes his international career.

IG: Where exactly are you in terms of competition readiness, and on which apparatuses?

: I am 100 percent ready to rock! I am able to do only pommel horse and parallel bars because of my injury. I also hope to do rings again for the European championships. I have gone from doing all six apparatuses to doing only two, so my goal was to increase difficulty and make those two better than ever before!

IG: What is your realistic target for the upcoming major competitions of 2014, specifically Europeans, Commonwealth Games and worlds?

: For me, making the team for Europeans and worlds will be my first goal. I need to be top scorer on my two pieces to make the team, and also hopefully do rings, too. This is an important Euros for Ireland as it will be a qualifier for the European Games (in Baku) next year. It is also a great opportunity for Team Ireland to have a great run through in a team event in preparation for the world championships, as we need to build on our strategies as a team.

I would also like to use Europeans as my last major international before Commonwealth Games. As for Commonwealth Games, just getting there in itself will be huge for me, considering that only four months ago I was told I wouldn't be able to compete ever again. So I will be very proud of that fact. Furthermore, I believe that, with my upgraded routines being hit, I have a good, realistic shot for finals. And once you're in a final, it is any man's game.

IG: What are your prospects for competing on the "leg" events, floor and vault, in the future?

: With my injury and the metal work I now have in my leg, it is very unlikely I will return to doing all-around again. I don't know what the future holds for me and my all-around prospects, but at the moment I am really focusing on bringing my pommels and p-bars to the next level.

IG: How are you managing your training, financially?

: Paul Lancaster LTD is my only financial sponsor. They are a Scottish electrical company and they have really saved me, as after my injury I had all of my funding cut, and so I had no income at all. I am also product-sponsored by Reflex Nutrition, Machine Fitness, Biltong Man UK and Lucy Bee coconut oil. I am desperately looking for any other sponsors, as I am really struggling to keep in training full-time without proper income, so any help at all would be hugely appreciated.

IG: What factors do you feel have given you the physical and psychological strength to return to competition after a career-threatening leg injury?

: I have a good, positive team around me here in Huntingdon, with my teammates Louis Smith, Dan Keatings and Cameron MacKenzie. They have helped me a lot to stay positive.

It was an extremely hard time for me with my tibia injury and surgery, but if you want something badly enough, very little can stop a man fulfilling his dreams. In terms of psychological factors, I am a fighter, and I will fight until it is physically not possible to do what I want to do in life.

International Gymnast Magazine's coverage of Irish gymnasts includes:
"Beyond Brave" – Kieran Behan profile (August/September 2011)
"Room to Grow" – IG's visit to Salto Gymnastics Club, Northern Ireland (March 2009)
"Shooting Star: Sarah Beck" – profile (January/February 2009)
"International Gymnast" – Rohan Sebastian profile (April 2008)
"Rising Irishman" - Matthew Cosgrave profile (December 2007)
"Pride of Ireland" – Katie Slader profile (March 2005)
"Pressing Her Luck" – Holly Murdock profile (August/September 2001)

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