For this issue in the 10 Minutes with series, we stayed closer to home and spoke to India McPeak. India competes for both Ireland and Northern Ireland, similar to top Irish male gymnast Luke Carson, she is eligible to compete for both. She has previously competed in Northern Europeans and the Commonwealth Youth Olympic Festival in 2011 placing 5th in the team competition and 7th on Vault. Recently, India committed to the Western Michigan University , a great achievement for an Irish gymnast.
India, when and why did you start gymnastics?
I started recreational gymnastics at the age of five, after pre-school ballet started to bore me – it was just not challenging enough!
What is your weekly schedule at the moment in terms of training and education?
Currently I am studying for four AS Levels at Regent House Grammar School in Newtownards. I train at Salto National Gymnastics Centre in Lisburn, 24 hours a week – Thursday is my only day off, so I have a very busy schedule!
Who would be your gymnastics idols and why?
My gymnastics idol is Shawn Johnson, I love her power and style of gymnastics. I remember watching her in Salto in 2007 at the GB v USA competition, this was the first time I saw her perform her tuck full twist on beam and it has been my goal to do the same, now I have finally achieved that!
What do you do- mentally and physically- to prepare the day of competition?
I always try to get a good sleep the night before and have a good breakfast in the morning (I love my food!). Before competing I usually listen to music, something upbeat to get me psyched up and in the zone like Rita Ora or Jessie J.
What would be the highlight of your career so far to date?
Competing Internationally is always great – I’ve been to Junior Europeans and the European Youth Olympic Festival but the highlight really has to be gaining a full scholarship to Western Michigan University.
What is your favourite part of being a gymnast?
I love doing what most people consider to be the impossible and pushing my body to the limit. I also love the travelling to lots of different countries and representing Northern Ireland and Ireland.
You were in London during the 2012 Olympic Games, what were your highlights?
Unfortunately we couldn’t get gymnastics tickets but went to the football at Wembley Stadium and watched Team GB and also saw some of the badminton (my brother’s sports!). I was extremely lucky on the day we visited the Olympic Park. On the Tube that morning we ended up standing beside Shannon Miller and had a lovely chat with her, then in the Park I met Carly Patterson and Shawn Johnson. I could have asked Shawn a million questions about gymnastics but I could only think of asking her to follow me on Twitter as I was so starstruck!! I got two new followers that day, Shannon and Shawn!
Are the 2014 Commonwealth Games in sight for you?
Yes, I am currently on the Commonwealth Games squad and I am looking forward to the opportunity of competing for Northern Ireland in Glasgow.
You recently accepted an offer to WMU, how are you feeling about a big move to America?
I am so excited to get out there!! I will be going to Western Michigan University in September 2014 after I complete my A Levels. It will be a fantastic opportunity for me to continue with competitive gymnastics and earn a university degree at the same time. The WMU head coach, Dave Kuzara, has been very positive about my future as a WMU Bronco and hopes to help me achieve my dream of representing Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016. I feel like I am a really good fit for the team and it looks like I’m going to have a lot of fun! GO BRONCOS!!!
What is it that you plan to study?
I’m not completely sure yet, but I have Biochemistry in mind as I am doing A level Chemistry and Biology.
Last week you placed 14th All Around at the Northern Europeans Competition in Glasgow, how do you feel the competition went?
I felt I could have done a lot better, it was my first 4-piece competition in a year and I think I let my nerves get to me. I was hoping to place in the top 10 and reach some finals, but it just wasn’t my day.
What are your plans for the 2012-2013 competition season?
I will be representing Salto at the Irish Teams in November and then the Northern Ireland Championships are in February. I would love to compete for Ireland at the Europeans in Moscow as last year I was unable to try out for the team due to the competition clashing with my GCSE’s. I’ll just have to wait and see what International competitions Ireland plan to send a team to.
Thank you to India for her time and lookling forward to seeing her compete in a weeks time at the Irish National Championships.
Here’s a few recent videos of India in training