Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson caught up with Hannah Whelan to discuss her decorated career, her coaching, and her life nowadays.
Hannah Whelan has been a major name in high-caliber British gymnastics for many years. A two-time Olympian, Hannah competed in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and made history for Great Britain by winning two bronze medals at the 2012 European Championships. She also competed in a handful of World Championships, including the 2011 Worlds, where GBR placed a historic fifth in the team final. Recently, Hannah announced her retirement from elite gymnastics.
FT: What have you been up to now that you’ve retired?
HW: Since I have retired, I’ve been keeping myself very busy! I’m currently in my final year at John Moores University in Liverpool studying sports development. I have recently qualified as a regional Judge and a Level 2 coach for Women’s Artistic Gymnastics. I’m also working as an athlete representative for a company called Sports For Schools. I go into Primary schools and lead assemblies based on my gymnastics career and aim to inspire the children to have an active and healthy lifestyle. I have also just started to visit clubs around the country and share my knowledge and love of the sport with younger gymnasts.
FT: Tell us a little about your decision to become a coach!
HW: I’m not currently coaching at a gymnastics centre at the moment, but I wanted to stay involved in the sport somehow. By coaching in different clubs around the country and hopefully inspiring some gymnasts, I feel I will be giving back to the sport and passing on some of my knowledge.
FT: What’s a typical day like for you now?
HW: I don’t actually have a typical day at the moment! They are all totally different! Some days I will be doing university work all day or meeting with my tutors. Some days I will visit schools and gyms and fit my university work in around that. I have been doing some media promotion for the British Championships at the end of March and I have also started running again. I try and get in some sort of exercise every other day but I’m also really enjoying some down time and spending time with family and friends!
FT: What was your favorite skill to compete?
HW: My favourite skill to compete was probably my free cartwheel layout layout. Although it was very difficult, quite inconsistent and very frustrating, when I did eventually compete it, it was such a great feeling!
FT: What are some of your favorite memories from competition?
HW: My favourite memories from competitions are probably the time I spent with my teammates! When we used to go on long trips to China and Japan we would always have a great time and laugh so much! We were a great group of friends and I’m really missing them!
FT: Do you think you might ever return to competitive gymnastics?
HW: Right now, I’m definitely sticking with my decision of retiring for good! I’m really proud of what I have achieved and I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life.
FT: Is there anything you’d like to share with the Full Twist readers?
HW: Watch out for all of the GB gymnasts at the next few competitions, we have some serious talent and I’m very excited for the future of British Gymnastics! Also if anyone in the UK wants me to visit their gymnastics club please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Thank you so much to Hannah for answering our questions! We wish her all the best of luck!