Full Twist’s “Meet The Gymnast” series has been on a bit of a break since our extended vacation in August / September due to Hurricane Irene. So far our series have met British Champion Hannah Whelan, the comeback kid Imogen Cairns and new senior Rebecca Tunney.
The fourth in a series of posts looking into Great Britain’s potential Worlds 2011 and London 2012 team. This weeks edition features the newly returned from injury Niamh Rippin.
Niamh Rippin, born 30th March 1994 from Southwell in Notts. Niamh, a member of the British National Team since 2007, trains in Notts Gymnastics Academy with fellow Team GB member Becky Downie and is coached by Claire Starkey. As a British Junior Niamh showed promises of an excellent gymnast but so far her road hasn’t been easy.
The Junior Years
2007 was the year that Niamh became silver Espoir Champion behind Danusia Francis. It was also the year that she was part of the Notts team who won the British Team Championships, beating City of Liverpool and Huntingdon to the title.
One of Rippin’s first international competitions since joining the National Squad as a Junior in 2007, was a friendly competition against France in Blackpool in early 2008. The Junior British Team beat the French juniors (featuring Youna Dufournet and Marine Brevet) 219.650 to 216.050. In the All Around competition Niamh placed 4th out of the 15 gymnasts competing and in the Individual Apparatus she placed 6th on vault, 4th on floor and 1st on beam.
In 2008, she placed third in the All Around competition behind Nicole Hibbert and Danusia Francis and in the Junior British Championships. Jenni Pinches was fourth in this competition. Individually she placed 5th on vault, 1st on bars and floor and 4th on beam.
At the British Team Championships in 2008, Niamh’s “Notts A” team placed second behind “City of Liverpool A” and ahead of third place “Heathrow A”. Niamh only competed on 3 apparatus so ranked in 52nd place but came 4th on Vault. The 2008 Notts A team consisted of Becky Downie, Laura Jones, Jordan Lipton and Louise Mercer. The winning City of Liverpool A team was made up of Beth Tweddle, Hannah Whelan, Aisling Williams, Melanie Roberts and Jenni Pinches.
At the 2010 French International where the likes of Beth Tweddle, He Kexin, Wu Liufang, Aliya Mustafina and Jessica Lopez competed, Niamh qualified in 6th place on vault and 8th on floor. Whilst only placing 8th in the vault final, she placed 4th in the floor final, just behind Beth Tweddle (1st), Ramilya Musina (2nd) and Marine Brevet (3rd).
The 2010 British Championships in Guilford was the last time that we saw Niamh prior to this years Championships. Here, she placed 6th in the AA competition behind the 2010 Champion Hannah Whelan. In the Apparatus Finals she placed 2nd on floor and 7th on bars.
At the 2010 British Team Championships, Rippin was part of the “Notts A” team (Becky Downie, Ruby Straw, Billie Mackenzie) who placed second behind “Heathrow A”. The Heathrow A team featured Laura Mitchell, Nicole Hibbbert, Becky Wing, Loriah James and Charlotte Lindsley. Niamh placed first on floor, 3rd on bars and 4th on vault. Huntingdon placed 3rd.
2010 European Championships
Niamh was part of the silver medal winning team at the 2010 European Championships in Birmingham. The team consisted of Rippin, Beth Tweddle, Becky Downie, Nicole Hibbert and Jocelyn Hunt. They came second scoring 168.275 behind the Russian team of Mustafina, Nabieva, Kurbatova, Myzdrikov and Semenova (169.700) and ahead of Romania (Porgras, Chelaru, Racea and Haidu) who scored 164.975. Rippin competed on two events in the team final, beam and floor. In the event finals, Niamh placed 6th on floor, tied with France’ Marine Brevet. She calls the European Championships one of the highlights of her career to date.
After the 2010 British Championships, Niamh suffered with a back injury and so began to reduce her training, to give her back a break. After some time, it was discovered that the back pain was being cause by a stress fracture. A recovery and rehabilitation of three months was given. Niamh describes this as the worst three months of her life. In time, she began to get better and resumed training until she broke her hand. At times, Niamh felt like it was the end of her career but both her coach Claire and the also injured Becky Downie kept her going. Unfortunately these injuries ruled her out of both the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam. In July this year Niamh said that she was back to where she was before she became injured and was delighted.
This years British Championships saw Rippin return to competition. Here she won bronze on vault and silver on floor. She also placed 7th in the All Around competition.
Notts didn’t do so well at this years British Teams but Niamh placed first on vault, just .05 ahead of the second place tie of Hannah Whelan and Laura Edwards. Not bad for her first competition since injury.
At the WAG Friendly against Spain, Niamh competed in her first International Competition since her silver medal at Europeans in 2010. She debuted a new, very difficult floor routine which she competed without any major errors. She performed a 1.5 twisting Yurchenko (which she nailed) and achieved 14.250 for it. In the apparatus finals she took the bronze medal on vault. During this competition, she had costly mistakes on both bars and beam but bars has been tough for Niamh since breaking her hand.
Most recently Niamh competed at the Romanian Nationals where the British girls were guests.
Niamh has spent the last week or so training at Lilleshall for GB team selection for the World Championships in Tokyo and potential GB qualification for the Olympic Games. We should know on Friday 23rd September if Niamh has been selected to represent her country in Tokyo. Of course, this information will be available on Full Twist.
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