University of Bath sporting scholar Kirsty Way is representing Great Britain at the 2019 Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in Tokyo this week after bouncing back from injury.
The Sport & Exercise Science student, supported by a King Sports Scholarship, is the reigning European Champion in the women’s double mini-trampoline (DMT) – a sport that combines elements of athletics, gymnastics and trampolining.
She has also twice won team silver with British Gymnastics at the World Championships, in 2015 and 2017, but looked set to miss out on this year’s competition after being sidelined by a mystery knee injury for much of the year.
She eventually underwent surgery in June and, with the help of her strength and conditioning coaches at Team Bath, was able to return to competition just in time for the British Championships, where she struck gold to secure her place in Tokyo.
“Coming back from injury and becoming British Champion was beyond all expectations,” said Way. “I missed all of the World Championship trial events during the year through injury, so I knew it was my last chance to qualify for Tokyo. It was all or nothing but I managed to get way over the qualifying score, so I was really happy.”
It was just after the 2018 World Championships in Russia that Way landed badly while competing in a student competition. However, it was another eight months before the scale of her injury was fully diagnosed.
“I left it for a while, thinking it might settle down, but my knee was still hurting in January so I had a scan which didn’t find anything,” she recalled.
“I tried to carry on training but it just got worse and worse, so I had another scan in May which showed I had actually torn the menisci cartilage in my knee. At that point I was relieved to finally have a diagnosis and know it wasn’t all in my head. Fortunately I was able to have the operation and recover in time for the British Championships.
“Because of the injury, I am going to Tokyo having already exceeded my targets for the year. Usually I would be targeting a podium place but my goal this time is to reach the final – just being at the Worlds is an achievement this year.”
DMT is a non-Olympic sport but the World Championships are doubling as a Tokyo 2020 qualifying competition for trampolining and will be staged in the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, a host venue for next summer’s Games.
“To be competing in the same arena as an Olympic qualifying event will be unbelievably exciting,” said Way. “It is also a qualifying event for the 2021 World Games, which is basically the Olympic Games for non-Olympic disciplines, so there is a lot riding on the competition.”
Way has been preparing for Tokyo by training four times a week in the jumps and throws hall at the University’s Sports Training Village, where she is coached by Pete Cracknell – himself a former DMT world medallist.
“Pete was my role model before I came to Bath, so for him now to be my coach here is amazing,” said Way, whose overall head coach is Tom Holman of her home club OLGA in Poole, Dorset.
She has also weekly strength and conditioning sessions with Team Bath’s Harri Cizmic through TASS [Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme], as well as weightlifting training in the Team Bath Gym & Fitness Centre with Sandra Smith-Vokroj, and is being supported by King Sports Scholarship funding as she combines sport with her final year of study.
“We don’t get any funding for DMT as it isn’t an Olympic sport, so to receive scholarship support from the University of Bath and TASS is incredibly helpful,” said Way. “I get loads of support from my lecturers too and I really am in the best possible place to be doing what I’m doing.”
The Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships are taking place in Tokyo from November 28 to December 1.
Applications are now being taken from current and prospective University of Bath student-athletes for the 2020-21 Sports Scholarship programme. Visit www.teambath.com/scholarships to find out more.
Courtesy of the Team Bath Press Office at Matchtight