Rio 2016 Olympics Unsung Heroes: Trampoline silver medallist Bryony Page
Among the gold rush at Rio 2016, several achievements appeared to fly somewhat under the radar. In a new series, Sports Gazette will feature numerous members of TeamGB who deserved more coverage.
Friday 12th August: 15:51 - In just 30 bounces, Bryony Page put trampolining on the map.
A slick final routine saw her score 56.040 to clinch an historic silver medal and finish just 0.425 behind defending champion Rosie MacLennan in the trampoline final.
It was the culmination of quite a journey from a back garden in the heart of the Cheshire countryside to the Rio Olympic Arena.
Speaking exclusively to Sports Gazette, she said: "I was just so happy because I had dreamed of winning an Olympic medal and I couldn't believe it was becoming a reality.
"I just kept thinking I've actually done this!"
A notoriously unforgiving sport, the G-forces trampolinists have to contend with are the same as an F1 driver and even being just a millimetre off balance on take-off can ruin a routine before it’s even begun.the G-forces trampolinists have to contend with are the same as an F1 driver”
However, Page's determination and passion shone through, especially taking into consideration the hurdles she has had to overcome.
Given the ease and elegance with which Page executed a difficult voluntary routine containing two triple somersaults, it's hard to believe that just a few years back she suffered a serious episode of the yips (sudden and unexpected loss of fine motor skills) and had to return to remaster the simplest of skills.
Combined with the disappointment of missing London 2012 through injury and fourth place finishes in both the European and World Championships, Page’s disbelief at winning an Olympic medal was both palpable and understandable as she collapsed to the ground overcome with emotion.
Despite having enjoyed success on the domestic and international circuits for years, Page was one of the surprise medallists in Team GB’s record-breaking haul and she soaked up the atmosphere in the athletes’ village.
She said: “It was so inspiring and exciting to see so many people do well in their competition and bring back medals!
“Every time I saw an athlete I had watched on TV at previous Olympics, it reminded me that I was now becoming an Olympian and that is something I have wanted for a very long time.”
However, the 25-year-old definitely won't rest on her laurels and sees this as just another successful stage in her career.
Currently out of action until the new year after undergoing a minor ankle operation, she is keeping herself motivated with plans to up the difficulty of her routines with some daring new moves and combinations.
She could even challenge Samantha Smith’s world record for the highest difficulty voluntary routine (ten moves of your choice) performed in a competition and become one of just a handful of women to complete three triple somersaults in a routine.
She said: “I want to push myself to learn some new skills such as multiple twisting triple somersaults and linking some of my harder skills into my routines.
“For me, pushing my boundaries and exceeding my limits is what I am looking forward to the most in the next few years."
Coached by Paul Greaves, who himself has been honoured with prestigious accolades including the esteemed Master Coach award (the highest recognition a coach can gain from a National Governing Body), Page could spring into the headlines once again at upcoming European and World Championships.
Admitting that she is still learning about mastering her nerves after 16 years of competition – either by using breathing techniques or switching her mental focus – Page credits one particular piece of her coach’s advice with helping reduce the impact of any pressures.
She said: "The best piece of advice and the reason why I get on with Paul so much is that we both understand that the ultimate reason I continue to trampoline is because I enjoy the feeling of being in the air and spinning around.
"I am passionate the sport and about improving myself.
"His advice to me is to always remember why I do the sport – because I love it.
"It takes away any pressures I may be feeling and I get to focus on what is important and what is fun!"
With a boundless and infectious enthusiasm for trampolining - the biology graduate is convinced she'll still be involved when she's old and with a walking stick - Page plans to make the most of the post-Rio media attention to promote the sport.
She said: "Gymnastics and trampolining are both amazingly fun sports that are also a great way to keep fit and healthy.
"It would be great to see adults taking up the sport for fun and fitness just as much as it would be seeing youngsters getting involved and one day becoming Olympians themselves!"
Inspired herself by Irina Karavaeva, the first female Olympic trampoline champion, perhaps the next Bryony Page has just signed up to a trampolining club near you...