Having made her Team England debut at the age of fifteen at this year’s Commonwealth Games, rhythmic gymnast Hannah Martin reached the finals in the all-around competition and narrowly missed a podium place in the ball final. Currently sitting her GCSE exams, Hannah, who is coached by former Commonwealth and Olympic gymnast Lynne Hutchison, is also preparing for the World Championships which take place in September. In between training at iStar Academy in West Sussex, we find out from Hannah about her experience at her first Commonwealth Games, her YouTube channel and her gymnastic training.
How was it making your Team England debut at this year’s Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast?
It was probably the most amazing experience of my life. I’ve never done an event that big, and the support from the Australian crowd and the whole of Team England was unbelievable. I didn’t think I was going to get that much support, so the whole experience was – I don’t even know how to describe it – it was amazing.
What did you enjoy the most about being at the Games in Australia?
I really did enjoy performing. When I got the first day out of the way, by the second and third days I could go out there and enjoy it and feel the atmosphere of the stadium. That was something I’d never felt before, that kind of atmosphere, I’d never performed in front of so many people so it was just amazing.
Do you remember the moment you found out you’d made the Commonwealth team?
I was at home doing my schoolwork. Lynne (Hutchison) told me to check my emails and there it was, I was crying, I was so excited.
When returning from Australia, what were your friends’ reactions like?
We were chill, haha! It was nice because it felt quite normal, which is sometimes better coming from such a high, you just need to go back into quite normal life. They were very happy that I did it, and did well, but they were pretty normal.
You are a three-time British all-around medallist, how does this feel?
I haven’t really thought about it, haha! It gives you confidence obviously for other competitions because you know that you’ve done it before and then, hopefully, you can do it again. Sometimes it puts a bit of pressure on, especially when you come up to the British Championships again because you know you’ve got a certain place that you want to uphold. It’s nice to know that your hard work has paid off.
How are you preparing for the upcoming World Championships in September?
Just working hard as usual, training and refining my routines, putting some new elements in and maybe taking some out that haven’t been working, just refining them as much as possible before World Championship trials.
You train at iStar Academy in West Sussex, how long have you trained there?
When I first started rhythmic gymnastics, it was at iStar Academy, so I’ve been with them and associated with them ever since I started. I was eight, so eight years now.
What’s it like being coached by former Olympic gymnast Lynne Hutchison?
It’s amazing, I feel really privileged to be coached by an Olympian and previous Commonwealth Games medallist. She’s only just recently retired from the sport and that also gives another edge to her, because she knows how it feels in competition so she can relate to how I’m feeling. She’s also really good at choreographing routines, so I’m really privileged to have such an amazing coach.
How many hours a week do you train and have you had to change your training schedule while doing GCSEs?
It ranges from 25 hours to 30+ hours a week so it’s quite a strict training regime. When I got back from Gold Coast I was allowed a few weeks off just to recover because it was obviously quite a big experience. I had a nice cushion of time to revise for my exams, so I did most of my revision during that period, so I feel quite prepared for my exams.
How did you get into rhythmic gymnastics and which apparatus did you first learn to use?
My mum was a rhythmic gymnast, so that’s how I got into it. She loved rhythmic gymnastics when she was my age, so she took me to a gymnastics club and that’s where it all stemmed from, I think. My first ever routine with an apparatus was with the hoop. That was a long time ago, but I remember that routine.
Have you ever tried out other forms of gymnastics?
I was doing artistic and acrobatic before I started rhythmic, but I was just way too flexible to do artistic. I had to do all these flips and I just wasn’t necessarily the right build for that, but I did do acrobatic and artistic before rhythmic.
For those wanting to get into rhythmic gymnastics, how do you recommend they start?
I would always say start by working hard and giving yourself that mindset of, if I want to achieve something in this I’ve just got to put my head down and work. It’s not all about the competitions and the flash, it’s about what you do in the gym every day, every hour, every minute.
Can you tell us about the rhythmic gymnast academy educational program that you are part of?
I’m really excited about that. I don’t know that much about it as of yet, but it sounds like a really amazing program. I really can’t wait for it to get started, I think it’s going to really help me develop as a gymnast. Hopefully I’ll have more training hours and more coaching time, I’m really excited for what that’s going to do for me.
You also upload videos to your YouTube channel, how do you come up with the upload ideas?
I’ve only recently started it. Sometimes I’ll be watching a previous routine of mine and I see a funny reaction that I’ve made and I’ll be like, oh I can make a meme with that. Sometimes I’m doing something exciting and I’m always like, oh maybe I’d like to share that with some of my friends and family, so I put that in the vlog too.
What has the response been like so far to your videos and channel?
It’s been really good, I think people have really liked them. I’m travelling quite a lot with competitions and I’m training 24/7, a lot of my friends don’t really know what I’m up to a lot of the time, so it’s a really good way to let them know and they can have a little peek into what I do on a day-to-day basis.
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