THE LORD OF THE RINGS
Yorkshire’s Nile Wilson underlined his status as one of the world’s finest gymnasts by taking the all-round title at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday and then backing it up with a silver in the rings final yesterday.
IF Nile Wilson can feel the weight of history on his muscular shoulders then he’s doing a good job of hiding it.
After striking gold in the team event and all-around competition, Leeds gymnast Wilson claimed Commonwealth Games medal No 3 yesterday with a silver behind team-mate Courtney Tulloch on the rings.
And today it could get even better as he seeks to add his collection in the high bar and parallel bars final – which he reached as top qualifier.
To do so he will have to drag his aching body, and troublesome wrist injury, through one last day of competition.
“The wrist is fine but the body is in bits, I’ve just one more day and two more routines to focus on,” he said.
“I just need to produce two clear routines and that’s going to put me right up there. I don’t see any reason why I can’t make history this week.
“The wrist has been tough in the last four months and two weeks ago I was worried what events I could do here.
“This is a big year, we’ve got two more major events to come with the Europeans in Glasgow and the World Championships too. I’d love to see what I can do there competing pain free.”
The 22-year-old Olympic bronze medallist is no stranger to leaving big events with enough gold, silver and bronze to bother even the most lethargic customs officer.
He made history when he became the first British gymnast to win five gold medals at the European Junior Championships four years ago.
And he won gold, silver and bronze on her major championship debut at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
“Courtney is a different class on the rings but it’s great to finish just behind him because I’ve been working so hard on the rings in training,” he added.
“I was totally exhausted, emotionally and physically, after the all-around final but I just had to push through and let the adrenaline carry me through.
“Courtney is a good mate and he’s a massive inspiration on the rings, he’s given me belief that I can do the skills he’s producing.”
It was a dramatic men’s allround final that went right down to the wire.
With the pressure on in the Gold Coast – only one fortieth of a point (0.025) separated the top three heading into the final apparatus, the high bar.
And Wilson produced a stunning routine that is becoming his calling card to secure his second Commonwealth Games gold after team success on Thursday.
It could have been easier for Wilson – the standout all-around men’s gymnast at these Games. But at the halfway stage he was down in third.
Wilson’s compatriot James Hall and Cyprus’ Marios Georgiou were out in front but by the time the final of the six apparatus arrived – Wilson’s speciality after his bronze in Rio two years ago – he knew what he needed to do.
“It’s incredible for it to come down to the wire on the last piece with the three of us in the mix,” he said.
“I smiled my way through it and hit the bar routine I knew I could, and it’s a great feeling to have a Commonwealth gold medal round my neck.
“Obviously my score was a lot down on the pommel horse because I’m not doing the full routine because of my hand, but it was enough. We were steady all the way round and I came alive on the last two rotations.
“Being in that arena soaking up the atmosphere looking for my parents in the crowd, fist-bumping, it’s what I’m about and how I get through and love every second of the competition and I’m sure it shows.”
Peerless on the pommel for over three years, double Olympic champion Max Whitlock was dramatically upstaged by Northern Ireland 18-year-old Rhys McClenaghan in their individual apparatus final, and had to settle for silver.
I don’t see any reason why I can’t make history this week. Leeds gymnast Nile Wilson who could end up with five medals this week.
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MAN OF THE HOUR: England’s Nile Wilson, from Yorkshire, celebrates winning a gold medal in the men’s individual all-round final on the Gold Coast.