This is part two of our retirement interview with Great Britain gymnastics start, Jenni Pinches. Head here to read Part One.
When did you make the decision. Did you already know before the Olympic selection process that you would retire after the Games?
I knew that if I made the Olympic team and then competed fairly well in the Olympics, then that would most likely be the way I would feel. It wasn’t 100% though.
If you hadn’t made the Olympic team, do you think you still would have retired? Why/why not?
I don’t know. I may have still retired, based on the fact I still would have achieved many great things in my career and still would finish it with a bang, just a smaller one…. a Christmas cracker sized one, compared to an Olympic sized explosion – by coming second at the British Championships. But on the other hand, like I said, I am stubborn. So maybe I would have changed my plan/s to do well in twenty twelve and then move on- and continue to Rio de Janeiro, in order to prove myself. Actually, I probably would have done that. I have a square on my window sill that reads ‘NEVER GIVE UP’.
You went and did some volunteer work over the summer. Can you tell us a little bit about that.
Yes, I went to South America to volunteer and travel. I went with a company called CAMPS INTERNATIONAL and aided them with their projects. Furthermore, I let my hair down after the stress of the start of the year and did things I would not have been able to do whilst training (that involved the risk of injury!)
But the main reason to go (with my cousin) was for the project work- to empower others less fortunate than myself, to give them choices and chances to progress in life, and also to preserve the natural environment, to maintain the beautiful world that we have, while we still have it.
- I taught English in three places
- I helped rebuild a nursery, near the Cloud forest, to enable the women in one community to work and learn skills
- I took part in creating a playground structure for the children living in Rio Blanco, a tiny village along the Amazon River, so that they could stay active and were encouraged to bond and stay a healthy community.
- I planted trees in the rainforest in order to replenish natural surroundings and to restore wildlife to one area- and also consequently encourage tourism in that area as a source of income for the village, who were a tribe only 25 years ago.
- I rescued and helped look after endangered and injured animals on the coast of Ecuador
- I helped build Octopus houses as part of a new artificial marine reserve site to protect species such as rare giant turtles
- I then visited the Galapagos islands, as a short holiday-only week at the end of the trip which was breath-taking
The trip gave me some new friends for life, whilst achieving something quite different to an Olympic placing, but just as impacting- something that wasn’t only for myself, but will really benefit other people’s longevity and well-being. It was a lot of fun, allowed me to glimpse some really beautiful parts of the planet, and broadened my perspective on the world.
So, what is next for you?
I am now doing my A Levels in a third year of sixth form. Also I am helping out the BG Media Team next week in Glagow at the Grand Prix there! Watch this space- well, follow me on Twitter- for future developments!
Who would you say have been the most instrumental in your gymnastics career and why?
I think you need a combination of great people- a team. My coach Amanda, national coach Colin, Boss Adi, the whole BG staff, the physios for keeping me in one piece, or putting me back together again, my team mates for supporting me, Beth for mentoring me, and Hannah for always being my training partner and sharing it all with me so that we got through together. My boyfriend James for always being there for me! my whole family for believing in me….
How would you like to be remembered as a gymnast?
Hmm. Can I decide that? It’s what people choose to remember. I hope I’d make a greater impression with my strength on floor [and occasionally vault or beam] and for my bubbly (if ditsy) smiley character, rather than for my inconsistency and craziness.
And when you look back at your gym career in twenty or thirty years, what will you think of first?
Marching out into the Olympic arena. Blisters on my hands and wrists in training. Being part of a wonderful team. Travelling all over the world to show off our routines. The glowing feeling of when you do complete your routine perfectly. The warmth and love from all the fans.
What advice would you give another gymnast going through the decision process about retiring?
Look back and look ahead. What did you aim to achieve? Have you achieved that? What are you going to do next? Are you ready to stop yet? Or is it better to keep going for a while- do you want to achieve something else in your gymnastics career that you’ve not reached yet?
They are all important questions to ask yourself.
Thanks for being interested in my story
Interview: Brigid McCarthy
Photo: Jenni on bars at the London Games
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