As a gymnast training at South Devon School of Gymnastics, Abigail Martin recently represented Great Britain at the Junior World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antalya. Abigail competed in the Floor final as first reserve, and qualified for the All-Around and Vault, and she competed with her Great Britain teammates Jemima Taylor and Ema Grace Kandalova for her World Championships debut. Also this year, Abigail became the All-Around champion at the 2023 British Championships, and champion in the All-Around, on Vault and Floor at the English Championships, where she also came away with Bronze on the Uneven Bars and Balance Beam events. In 2022, Abigail’s competitions included the Junior European Championships in Munich alongside Ruby Evans, Grace Davies, Tiegan Trafford and Evie-Flage Donovan, and she made her major international debut at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Slovakia for Team GB. With her training at South Devon School of Gymnastics, Abigail is also helping coach one of the development groups, and next year she will transition to senior level, and hopes to represent Great Britain at an Olympic Games. Chatting to Abigail, she told us about becoming the junior All-Around British champion this year, representing Team GB at the Junior World Championships in Antalya and training at South Devon School of Gymnastics.
At the recent Junior World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, you represented Great Britain, what did you enjoy most about making your World Championships debut in Antalya?
It was an amazing experience being in such a big competition, I was lucky to have such a supportive team and I just loved every minute of competing out there. It was such a fantastic feeling knowing that it was a World Championships and I was competing against the world’s best juniors.
You came into the Floor final as the first reserve, how was it being brought on to compete?
I found out the night before the Floor final that someone had withdrawn and I was going to compete, it was an amazing feeling to have another opportunity to compete at the Championships.
What was it like qualifying for and competing in the finals of the All-Around and Vault, and how was it being part of Team GB alongside Jemima Taylor and Ema Grace Kandalova?
I just love competing, so I was really happy to qualify for the AA and Vault final and get another opportunity to compete. I enjoyed every minute and was so happy to score a new PB AA score in the final.
Competing with Jemima and Ema was awesome, they were so supportive, and we cheered each other all the way around the competition.
You became the junior All-Around champion at the 2023 British Championships, and became junior All-Around, Vault and Floor champion and won Bronze on the Uneven Bars and Balance Beam at the 2023 English Championships, can you tell us about this?
Being the AA British champion has always been a dream of mine and definitely a goal for this year, so it feels so good that I was able to put out good routines and performances and the results show me how hard I worked for this.
How was it competing at the Junior European Championships in August last year, where you came 6th in the All-Around and competed in the Uneven Bars and Balance Beam finals, and how did you stay focused during the competition?
I treated each competition and final as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this helped me to stay calm and focused.
What are some of your favourite memories from competing in Munich alongside your British teammates Ruby Evans, Grace Davies, Tiegan Trafford and Evie-Flage Donovan?
I just loved competing as part of a team, we are all close and good friends, so we had lots of fun supporting each other in the competition and enjoyed some chill time between finals. It was also a great experience to be away with the seniors and get to watch them compete.
How did you find the experience making your major international debut at the 2022 European Youth Olympic Festival in Slovakia and what was the competition like to be part of?
It was an incredible experience; it is a multi-sport event, so it was amazing to get to watch other sports and meet all the other athletes. There was an opening and closing ceremony, which was fun to be part of, and Team GB made our time out there so much fun. We had a real team spirit around the camp.
How do you feel finding out you’ve been selected to represent Great Britain at a major international competition?
I’ve been selected for a few internationals now and it feels amazing every time. I love getting to wear a GB leotard and represent Great Britain with my teammates.
Where does your love of gymnastics come from and how did you get into it?
My cousin and older sister both did gymnastics so I wanted to join the club so I could learn cool tricks like they could do. I love learning new skills and competing and I’m so lucky that everyone at my club is so supportive.
Can you tell us about your typical training day at South Devon School of Gymnastics and how much has your training changed over time?
I train for 24 hours a week over five days. I have two afternoons out of school each week for training. Over the last year, I have started to also go to the fitness gym for some strength and conditioning work and I have started to help coach one of the development groups, which is so much fun.
Do you have any current favourite gymnasts to watch and were there any you particularly enjoyed watching when you were younger?
When I was younger, I loved Claudia Fragapane as she is so powerful.
I also love watching Jessica Gadirova – she has achieved so much and is very inspirational.
Have you been given any advice over your gymnastics career so far that has stuck with you?
Just to enjoy it and make the most of every opportunity. One of my favourite quotes is – only look back to see how far you have come.
How do you like to spend your time away from gymnastics?
I like spending time with friends and family.
Do you have any competitions coming up that you can tell us about or that you are targeting?
I have a bit of a break at the moment from competitions, so I am working hard in the gym on some upgrades ready to be a senior next year. My long-term goal is to compete for Team GB at the Olympic Games.
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