From the Tellytubbies to Olympic hopeful seems an unlikely journey to make, but that is exactly the position that gymnast Jennifer Pinches finds herself in.
Her interest in gymnastics began when she was just six years old. At the time she was attending ballet classes, but when her parents moved house there were no facilities for ballet in the area of her new home. She saw gymnastics during an episode of the Tellytubbies, although she cannot remember which Tellytubby in particular, and was immediately hooked.
She joined her local Fromeside club, attending for just one hour per week under the expert tuition of her coach Tracey Kerr. Her potential was apparent from the start, and she transferred, along with her coach, to The Academy at Portishead. Her talent and dedication saw her become the level 4 British Champion in 2003, followed by the level 3 British Champion in 2004. In both of these years she was selected to attend the prestigious Romanian training camp at Cetate Deva.
As Jenni reached her sixteenth birthday in May 2010, she became a senior gymnast on January 1st. After another house move, she now belongs to the renowned City Of Liverpool Gymnastics Club, alongside other stars such as Beth Tweddle. Her schedule has become increasingly hectic as she dedicates herself to her chosen sport. She now trains for around 30 hours per week, as well as having to endure the three hour round Trip from her home in Whaley Bridge to the Liverpool club for each session. This training regime means that she has very little time for other things, with just Wednesday evenings and Sundays available for homework and other interests.
Gymnastics is a very challenging sport, with Jenni having to be proficient in all four women’s disciplines to succeed. These are the asymmetric bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault, and whilst she dislikes the asymmetric bars more than the other three, during competitions she finds that the balance beam is the scariest piece of apparatus. The floor exercise is her favourite event, and the one that she finds the easiest.
In 2008 she competed in the Junior European Championships in the French town of Clermont-Ferrand. Her concentration during the harder disciplines meant that she hardly noticed the 5,000 strong crowd, however she is more relaxed for the floor exercise, and is therefore able to appreciate the atmosphere and the support.
Unfortunately Jenni has a limited training schedule at the moment due to a stress fracture of her foot that she sustained in early April, but she is hopeful of returning to action for the British Championships in July, whilst her next big event should be the World Championships in Rotterdam in October.
The proudest moment in her career so far was in the Junior European Championships when she finished 8th in the individual competition in her first major event. Her ambitions for the future include gaining a senior European team medal, or maybe even an individual, however the big aim is to be able to compete in the London Olympics in 2012.