Thursday 29 November 2012

Back on the podium . . .

GB's Niamh Rippin

It has been a quiet couple of years for Team GB's Niamh Rippin but that is about to change over the next few weeks, with Niamh competing this weekend (1st December) at the Stuttgart World Cup then straight on to the Glasgow World Cup next weekend (8th December). It is great to see Niamh back in international competition after battling with injury since her last major international appearance in 2010.

Niamh made a splash as a junior gymnast, coming 4th all around in the Espoir British Championships in 2006, 3rd in 2007 and 3rd in the Junior British Championships in 2008 as well as many other accolades in between. Her transition to the senior ranks began in style, being part of the team that took Silver in the Team Final at the 2010 European Championships. She also made an apparatus final in this, her senior international debut, placing 6th in the Floor Final. She then went on to take the Silver medal on floor later in the year at the British Championships.

It was after the British Championships in 2010 that Niamh's injury problems began. A back injury, which forced her to reduce her training, turned out to be a stress fracture. A recovery and rehabilitation period of three months proved to be what Niamh has described as the worst three months of her life. But worse was still to come - after finally beginning training again, Niamh suffered a broken hand. With thoughts of giving up gymnastics, it was up to coach Claire Starkey and teammate Becky Downie to keep her going. Thankfully they did and Niamh returned to competition in 2011, placing 7th all around at the British Championships as well as taking the Bronze medal on vault and the Silver medal on floor.

By 2012 Niamh was back to winning ways, taking Gold medals and the title of British Champion on both floor and vault during the 2012 British Championships, as well as finishing 5th all around. A contender for the Olympic team, Niamh unfortunately missed out but was named as a reserve. And 2012 is not over yet - competing twice in the next two weeks at major international competitions, what can we expect of Niamh Rippin?

Niamh is a powerful gymnast, whose main strengths are floor and vault. She tumbles dynamically, combining difficult passes with excellent landings. Her vaults are well executed and she has a lovely DTY as her first vault. She has some lovely work on beam and a good bars routine with a great double front dismount. She has some really exciting work and I am looking forward to seeing much more of Niamh, not just over the next few weeks but hopefully over the next few years. Good luck Niamh!

(Niamh Rippin, 2012 British Championships, Floor Final - Gold, 14.250)

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