With world championships just nine weeks away, the absence of both Downie sisters (Ellie an AA, FX, VT contender, Becky a UB contender) through injury has blown the selection wide open. An individual championships this year, it is not a question of fitting the pieces of the jigsaw together to form the highest scoring team, but who can go out there and individually bring in the best results. There are four spots available, three may compete AA in qualifications, and one on individual events. I imagine we shall see Amy Tinkler in one of the AA spots, Claudia Fragapne on beam and floor, then there are two spots up for grabs, and we could well see Kelly Simm in one of them.
We have missed Dynamo School of Gymnastics Senior Kelly in competition so far this year, a member of the British senior squad for the last seven years, Kelly is one of a very small group of British seniors to have both Commonwealth gold, and World bronze medals to her name. Kelly is the reigning World Universiade Champion, a title she took in 2015, she was also the first ever gymnast world wide to compete a piked Galante, the inbar Stalder to piked Tkatchev, and I believe the only British gymnast to ever compete a full in off beam.
Following her world team medal in October 2015, Kelly found herself battling injury at the most difficult times. As she went into the Olympic year in 2016 ready to fight for a spot on the team, she suffered a stress fracture in her back which kept her out of action, kept her from full training, and kept her from being at her peak when she needed to be as the long trial period commenced. She did make it back for the closed trials at Lilleshall in July just before the team announcement where she finished 2nd AA on day 2, a huge accomplishment after such a hard fight for fitness. Kelly was named a reserve for the Rio team, disappointment at coming so close, but so much to be proud of, and thankfully she decided that she would carry on, that she still had so much more to bring to the sport.
Kelly returned to competition in October 2016 at the Rushmoor Rosebowl, leading the British team to gold, and taking the AA, vault and floor titles. It was a bitter sweet return for her, as along with her triumph came an ankle injury on floor from her hugely difficult whip immediate full in tumble, resulting in a stretched tendon. Kelly is an incredibly tough gymnast, and tried to treat the injury with ice, rest and rehabilitation including multiple injections to try and get her ankle to heal. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, and at the end of March, Kelly had surgery to resolve the problem, and enable her to start building back to full strength and stay there. This of course caused her to miss both the British and English Championships, as well as trials for European Championships.
Kelly is now fighting her way back in order to challenge for a spot on the World Championship team, training a cycle of two weeks at home club Dynamo under coaches Keith and Debbie Richardson, then one GRIT (Gymnastic and Rehabilitation Intensive Training) week at Lilleshall alongside fellow GB senior and rehabber Gabby Jupp. The English Institute of sport at Lilleshall excelling at rehabilitation of elite athletes, and national coaches Amanda Reddin and Colin Still overseeing her gymnastics while she’s there. Kelly has started bars and beam with upgrades ready to go including an Endo half, bringing back her E rated Inbar Shap, the Komova II, and a Hindorf. She also has plans to add a Bhardwaj, and giant full in combination, and is now moving on to floor and vault once more.
Kelly has decided not to defend her World Universiade title in Taipei later this month, she was scheduled to compete, but is concentrating of being ready for World Championships instead. There is a closed trial at Lilleshall later this month, and another trial within the Adrain Stan Team Championships on the 16th and 17th of September. The World team will be announced shortly afterwards, and the leave for Montreal week beginning the 25th. Whether Kelly is selected this time or not, there is so much more to come from her, another three years of the quad to progress, refine, and peak as with the rest of the GB senior squad she navigates the road to Tokyo. Good luck Kelly.