As these pictures show, Alice has been very successful over the last six months, winning the silver medal with the British team at the junior European Championships, taking the Junior European Floor silver, the European beam silver, winning the GB-ITA-GER International, becoming Jr English champion, and winning the Olympic Hopes Cup.
Alice Kinsella has returned from the 2016 Junior European Championships with team, beam, and floor silver medals, joining Amy Tinkler and Ellie Downie as the only British juniors to have three medals at this level. Alice trains at Park Wrekin College Gymnastics Club under coaches Brett Ince and Christine Sill, she has been at the top of her age group from the off, finishing 1st at level four, 4th at level three, and 3rd at level 2 in her age group years, she has taken multiple medals at the English and British Championships at both Espoir and Junior level, and is the reigning English junior AA champion, and British beam champion. Alice also won the Olympic Hopes Cup in December 2015, took the floor silver at the International Gymnix earlier in the year, and the AA title at the recent GB-ITA-GER international.
Here Alice talks about her year leading up to the championships, the upgrades she made, the highs and lows of the junior Europeans, and her plans for the rest of the year, as she heads towards the senior ranks.
Hi Alice, and congratulations on your success at Junior European Championships. Before we get to the competition, lets talk a little about your year so far leading up to the event.
Having won the Olympic Hopes Cup in December, you began the year with several upgrades over three pieces, raising your D scores considerably. You added a Pak to your bar routine, and then for Europeans linked it directly to the toe full, you upgraded your leaps on beam, and added a triple twist on floor, as well as adding the two and a half twist you did have, to the one and a half twist as an opening tumble.
How confident were you with all of your new work going into the first competitions of the year?
I was more excited than anything else because it was the first comp of the year and I was trying out all my new moves. Also, I was up against some of the best and strongest gymnasts from different countries around the world. (Canada comp*).
*Alice is referring to the International Gymnix competition, where she took on the best juniors from the USA, Russia, Romania and Japan to name just a few.
You had some trouble with the new Pak in a few competitions earlier in the year, would you say everything for the first half of this year geared towards getting the new work out there, and then peaking for junior Europeans?
I felt more confident the more competitions I did as well as the amount of time I spent working on getting my Pak right in the routine.
At the beginning of March, you hit your new routines, and took the English AA title. Other than winning, what were you most pleased with from the competition?
Other than winning, I feel the biggest achievement was having an all around clean competition. After failing my Pak in previous comps, to make it was the highlight of the day – as well as taking the title!
A few weeks later it was time for the British Championships, as one of the favourites going in to the competition, and the highest D scores, Alice would take the title if she could hit. Unfortunately for her it was not to be, three falls on the day, and a substantial additional error on bars meant finishing off the podium. Despite her errors, she still finished in fourth place, demonstrating both the level of her gymnastics, and huge potential. Alice then recovered well from her disappointment to take the beam title.
Can you talk about the British Championships from your point of view, did you feel confident going into the competition? Were you hopeful of taking the title?
I had a new bar routine which was a challenge. To fall on my first rotation, (bars), knocked me back a bit, which led me to not being as confident for the rest of the comp.
Many young gymnasts will experience disappointing competitions, and will need to learn how to bounce back. How did you deal with this yourself, what advice would you give?
Not winning the title was something I couldn’t face again, so I was back in the gym working hard on my routines straight away, to prove I was capable of achieving the high scores I should have got. The advice I would be that sometimes you do have a bad day at the office, but it is up to you to work hard to get over it so you can achieve bigger things in the future.
After having a rough AA, how did it feel to then become British junior champion on beam?
Having a bad All Around made me even more determined for the finals, so to take the gold medal on beam was a great feeling as I knew I could do it.
On to European Championships, three silver medals is huge achievement. What were your hopes/expectations going into the competition? Did you have any expectations yourself in terms of making finals, and coming back with medals?
Being selected and going to the Europeans was an achievement on its own. Being involved with a group of such hard working girls, I knew we were going to have a chance of medalling as a team. Individually, I wanted to go out and have fun. To get three medals was an amazing feeling as I did not expect to achieve so much in a competition with Europe’s best junior gymnasts.
The 2014 junior team were the first to come home with a medal, and set a new standard for British juniors. Did you feel any pressure to finish on the podium as a team?
I knew our team was good enough to achieve high enough scores to be in a medalling position. Obviously the 2014 team getting a medal was something to live up to, but I knew we could achieve just as much.
You had a fantastic team final competition, leading the team to the silver medal, and qualifying for the all around in third place with a big score and personal best of 55. 465. Can you talk a little about the competition from your point of view?
To get my personal best of 55.465 was one of the best feelings so far in my gymnastics career. To gain a silver as a team just shows that GB do have some of the best gymnasts in Europe. I felt the comp was a very exciting experience and to have the support from the crowd was an even greater feeling.
Were you more nervous than usual coming into this big event?
As it was such a big comp there were going to be nerves, but when the adrenaline kicked in, it made me so determined to get the best results I could.
Had it helped to have competed with many of your team mates over the last six months at various junior internationals?
Competing with my team mates in previous comps meant we grew closer as a team, supporting each other in everything we did!
What were the highlights for you in terms of your own routines?
Personally, my floor routine was a major highlight of the comp, because to have the crowd clapping and cheering me on was an amazing feeling. It made me more determined to perform the best routine I could. To get my personal best on all pieces shows I am capable of gaining some of the best scores and that alone was a great achievement.
Finally, can you put into words what it meant to finish in second place, and stand with your team on the rostrum to get the silver medal?
It was a very proud moment in my career to stand on the podium watching the GB flag rise. It just shows how far we’ve come and that we have still got plenty more to give.
Lets talk about the all around competition:
You have had some great all around results, winning the Olympic Hopes Cup in December, the English title in March, then the GB-ITA-GER competition just before Europeans, having qualified in third place, how did you feel going into the final?
I felt like I just wanted to go out there and enjoy every moment I had representing my country, doing the very best I could.
You started brilliantly, and were the joint leader at the half way point, with two very strong pieces to go (Alice had floor and beam left to do, the pieces she would take individual medals on), were you aware that you could take the title before you went to beam?
Going into the beam rotation I had no idea I was leading the comp. I was in my zone, like every other competition, where I just focused on my routines, going over them in my head, ready for my next piece. I knew I had to pull off the best routines in order to get a big score like in the team comp!
On beam, watching the routine, you looked nervous at the beginning, seemed to settle well, then of course had the fall, then recovered well. Can you describe the routine in your own words?
Going into beam I did feel a bit nervous – more than the team final. When I performed my double spin with a major wobble, I knew the routine was not going to be my cleanest. Due to it being my first move, if performed right, it settles me for the rest of the routine. However, I tried not to let it affect me so much when going on. On my free cartwheel layout, I knew when taking off for my layout that I was off balance. When falling, I was frustrated, as I knew I was capable of taking the title and that one mistake would stop me from taking it. Even though I had a fall, I felt I recovered well in the end, finishing with a round off two and a half twist.
You finished strongly on floor, and still placed fifth in Europe even with a fall. Looking at it now, how do you feel about the AA competition as a whole?
Looking back now, I was obviously annoyed with my fall on the beam, but the other rotations were clean and I was very pleased with them. In the All Around I had the time of my life representing Great Britain. I went out and had fun, with my coach, Brett Ince, supporting me every step of the way, which definitely helped me! Without his hard work, along with Chris Still’s, I wouldn’t be where I am now, so I am very thankful to them both.
For apparatus finals, you had a fantastic day. Fourth on bars, then two silver medals. The first ever British junior to medal on beam, then finishing with a floor silver to wrap things up.
Can you describe what it meant to you to hit your beam so well, especially after the AA competition, did you feel more calm going into this routine?
To hit my beam routine and score a PB of 14.166 was such an amazing feeling after my All Around. To be the first junior GB gymnast to ever medal on the piece just topped off my day, as I knew my beam was strong enough to gain such a high score. I felt so much more determination on this piece to do the very best I could.
Your floor was lovely, you showed excellent difficulty, especially for a junior gymnast, and you really seem to be gaining confidence in the performance and artistry aspect now. Is this something you have had to work on?
I have worked very hard on my floor with my coaches as it was one of my weakest pieces, so to come out with that score and a silver medal just showed that all the hard work had paid off. I will continue to work just as hard to make it even better.
Your routine really seems to suit you, and I have read a lot of very positive comments about it, is it one of your favourites so far?
This routine is definitely one of my favourites so far. The music, dance and tumbles suit my personality very much. I feel I am a strong tumbler, so to nail all my landings each time was a great feeling. I couldn’t help but smile during my performance. I loved it!
If you could sum up your experience at Europeans, what would you say?
The Europeans was the best experience I have ever had, and to experience it with a group of girls who I would call my close friends was amazing. My main highlight was standing on the podium receiving my three medals and watching the GB flag rise. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was so proud of everything I had achieved at the Europeans. I want to thank everyone who has been part of my success on my journey so far!
Moving forward, you are now six months from turning senior, a huge step. What are your plans for the rest of this year in terms of competition?
At the moment there are no major competitions that I know of, so I just want to focus on new moves and routines.
As you prepare for senior level, are you hoping to upgrade further? Have you set yourself any targets for next year as yet?
I definitely want to upgrade further and I know, as well as my coaches know, that I can. I am focused on gaining new moves on all my pieces and I have started working hard towards them already.
Finally, as you look back at being an age group, Espoir, then Junior gymnast. What are your personal highlights, and what are you most proud of?
I am very proud of how far I have come on my journey. Even when some comps have not gone the way I wanted, I have learnt from them and they have made me the gymnast I am now! I think my main highlight was being selected for the European team. The feeling I had when the team got announced was indescribable – I got goose bumps! The hard work had paid off and I will keep working hard to achieve even more in my career!
A big thank you to Alice for taking the time to do this interview. A big prospect for the next quad leading up to Tokyo 2020, and a great attitude. I’m sure we all look forward to seeing what she does next.