My Favourite Sport: Caitlin Hadaway (gymnastics)

Caitlin Hadaway, 18, is a former gymnast who now plays football as a regular sport

In the first of a new series, we speak to Grassroots North Wales readers linked to sport in a variety of ways.

They tell us what fascinates them about any desired sport of their choice – apart from football.

We kick off with Holywell Girls and Ladies FC player CAITLIN HADAWAY and her love of GYMNASTICS.

1 When did you first get into gymnastics and why?

I got into gymnastics when I was in high school. There was a club in Flint High, my friend went there and she said why don’t you give it a go so I did! It was in 2014, I was 13, I had no experience of gymnastics before then.

2 Have you ever won any competitions?

Yes, I started competing about 6 months after first starting. Doing the competitions at the start blew me back a little bit because I never knew what to expect but once I’d got into it I was doing competitions nearly every other week at one stage.

When I got about a year into the competitions I did place first quite a lot! My best memory of winning was when I competed at Deeside. I was doing a higher level then I ever done before and I came first.

Caitlin (centre) is all-smiles after a win

3 What did you enjoy most about the sport?

I enjoy gymnastics as it taught me self-discipline, the self-discipline side of gymnastics I take into football. I need this on the pitch.

In gymnastics I was in control of whether I won a competition or lost a competition. If I had a bad training I would always stay behind and ask Britt and Jen my coaches what could I have done better and then in the next session we’d work on that. I enjoyed this because I had something to progress on and work on to be the best!

4 What disciplines did you take part in? Which did you prefer, if you had to say one?

I took part in floor, vault, beam and bar. Most competitions were normally floor, vault and beam but as I progressed in gymnastics I started to do bar.

My favourite discipline was vault as when I went over the vault and did my skill it felt as if I was flying! Most of the time I’d close my eyes (I’d get told off for that) until my feet would hit the mat then my eyes opened and the one thing that went through my head was ‘I NEED TO STICK THIS’ – if I stuck that vault I knew that all my hard work in training pulled off.

Caitlin (centre) with another trophy

5 Has your experiences as a gymnast helped you in any other sport?

Yes, the experiences I learned in gymnastics I take into football.

I take the self-discipline side of gymnastics into my football because if when I’m playing football and I’m having a bad game it will affect the mood of my team as well, so when I come to football I forget everything that’s happened off the pitch and then as soon as I’m on the pitch I’m in the right mind and ready for the game.

As well as self-discipline I also had a routine before a competition, I now use this in football. Before a match I will have a sausage butty and listen to a bit of music, once I never had it and I had what I thought was the worst game, so I will always do that now.

6 Is there an ideal build for a gymnast?

Yes, there is an ideal build for a gymnast, it is small and strong. If you are small it makes all your skills easier to do.

Being small helped me lots because when I was doing skills I’d be able to do my skill faster and higher. Height was key…if you got height you’d be able to do harder skills.

Being strong you needed a lot in gymnastics as a lot of the skills included upper body strength. I didn’t have the best upper body strength throughout the whole time of gymnastics.

Top of the podium

7 Who do you think is the best gymnast ever?

Easy! It’s Simone Biles, an American artistic gymnast.

Simone started gymnastics late. She was 6 which is uncommon as normally gymnasts start as soon as they can walk.

In her senior career she has been all-round world champion 5 times! Simone even has her own skill named after her.

8 Do you have any gymnastics heroes?

Gabby Douglas, because even though she has had injuries she has fought to get back to the top, she has the right mindset to get where she wants and to make sure she gets there.

I think having the right mindset you will be able to get anywhere you want and do anything you want, so I look up to her.

9 If anyone was considering taking up gymnastics, what advice would you give them?

Keep at it! Keep at it even when it’s hard and you’ve got massive rips on your hands, it will be worth it.

I’d also say make sure you train hard always and set yourself goals to work towards and every time you reach one of your goals set a harder one.

When you go to a competition you want to know you have done enough, if you have done enough training you will always know that you will compete at your best.

10 Any injuries suffered doing gymnastics?

Yes! I have had a lot of broken toes all of which were either on beam or vault!

I broke my nose once when I was doing a front flip. I stayed in a tucked position and I hit the mat and kneed myself in the nose and broke it, at the time it hurt but now looking back it’s really funny because how clumsy I am.

In action for Holywell Girls and Ladies FC. Picture: Lee Douglas

BONUS QUESTION…

11 Do you ever miss gymnastics? Would you consider going back? Or is your focus now mainly on football?

I do miss gymnastics, but I gave up gymnastics for football.

I played football way before gymnastics. I would play football on the nearby field with (brother) Jordan and his mates.

They would put me in goal because no-one else wanted to! I think if I went to try and attempt a skill now that I used to do I think I would fall flat on my face.

I love gymnastics but I love football more!

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