Kelly Simm is closing in on Great Britain selection for the forthcoming World Championships after reaching the final stage of the selection process and taking a bronze medal at a high-profile competition.
The 18-year-old gymnast from Whiteley is currently being put through her paces at Lilleshall with the other candidates to make the four-person squad for the event in Antwerp, Belgium later this month.
And having excelled at a recent warm-up competition in the Netherlands, Simm has made significant progress that could yet see her competing against the cream of the world’s gymnasts.
Kerri Upton, her assistant coach at Dynamo Gymnastics Club, said: ‘We’ve noticed a huge difference in her confidence recently.
‘Going up to these events has got her believing in herself a bit more.
‘Whether she makes the team or not, she has taken giant strides.
‘But she’s got a great chance. She has made it down to the last six girls that are there at the moment and they will take four of them.
‘She is definitely starting to believe in herself a bit more because when the selection first started, she was treating it as a good thing for experience.
‘But having seen the other girls, she knows that it’s something she can do now and she is one of the top gymnasts in Britain.
‘You can do the numbers in the gym every day but so much of it is about believing you can do it and sticking your hand up on the day to do what you’ve been training for.’
The teenager’s recent performance will also give her hope after going up against top gymnasts from Netherlands, Romania, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Finland, who were using the event as preparation for the World Championships. She claimed an overall eighth, which might have been higher but for a mistake on the beam – but picked up a bronze medal in the vault after some intensive work in training.
Upton said: ‘She qualified into event finals in the vault and the floor and got a medal in the vault, which was really good.
‘She is strongest on the vault and floor but the bars is probably where she needs to put the most effort in because it’s not her most natural event.
‘But she has worked really hard on that and had a personal best in the recent competition. Her progress has been fantastic.’
While Simm is determined to make the final cut, Upton knows there are plenty of other major international events on the horizon.
She said: ‘She’s back at Lilleshall now and going through the selection process but they won’t find out the final team for a couple of weeks.
‘If she doesn’t quite make it, it would still be a great achievement to have made the final six.
‘There are the Europeans and Commonwealths next year so there is still plenty to aim for.
‘But if she goes, it will be an amazing experience for her.’
And with up to 30 hours per week working on her routines and disciplines, it would be testament to her dedication to the sport.
It would also act as a further encouragement to a raft of new young gymnasts at the club.
Upton said: ‘It’s great for our club to see role models like her here.’