After being likened to USA prodigy Simone Biles at such a young age, Milton Keynes gymnast Naana Oppon is staying grounded as she aims to reach the top of her sport. The 13-year-old tumbler’s potential seems to have no limits as she has already gained traction on a national and world stage so far.
After winning her first British title when she was eight, Naana managed to gain a silver medal in last year’s World Championships and she wants to keep making waves in the sport.
“When I was four I started in recreational gymnastics and then I got picked into a tumbling group,” said Naana - who is being supported by the Backing The Best programme through SportsAid this year.
“Competitions really excite me, it gives me a sense of adrenaline being in such a big arena. The people I train with really help and inspire me, particularly the older ones. They are really helpful.
"When things are not going well, they give me tips but more importantly they ask me how I am feeling and try to talk me through what I can do to improve.”
Naana's second place at last year’s World Championships was more than just an ordinary achievement as, after falling short in her first two appearances, it showed she was able to learn from her mistakes and overcome adversity.
She said: “When I came second in the World Championships last year it was really amazing because I had competed twice before that and the first time I came third but I was carrying an injury in my foot.
“I took time off afterwards, but the second time it did not go to plan - I fell but I still managed to qualify for the finals.
“I try not to overthink because that is how you work yourself up. I try to swipe my mistakes off and focus more on the next chance I get.
“My family motivate me to keep on going, always telling me just to go for it. They are vital - my mum, dad and sister are so supportive.
"They take me to gym all the time, waking up early and paying for the hotels for a three-day competition. Their help and support is really important and I really hope I can continue to make them proud."
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