“We are creating art with our bodies”
31 March 2018 –In January 2013 four junior British male gymnasts travelled to Sydney to compete in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival. They were Dominick Cunningham, James Hall, Courtney Tulloch and Nile Wilson. Five years later, all four returned to Australia, representing England at the Commonwealth Games alongside teammate Max Whitlock. I spoke to Nile Wilson just before competition began.
“It’s amazing, it’s really strange as well, that those exact four boys are here again,” said Nile after training, just before the Games started. “A lot of time and experience has passed since 2013, but it makes it that much more special.”
Five years ago at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival the quartet won the team title and four apparatus titles between them, and they have high expectations for a similar medal haul in 2018.
“We’re all excited to do it and we’re 100% definitely going for gold,” said Nile. “We’re in great shape, the team’s really strong. The most important thing is we’re having fun out here, we can soak up the atmosphere and then just do the best gymnastics we can.”
Of the four, 22-year-old Nile has gained the most experience, competing at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where he won four medals – two gold, a silver and a bronze. Then at the 2016 Rio Olympics, he won the bronze medal on high bar.
“I’d like to play a bit more of a senior role now – not in age, but in experience,” Nile said. “I’ve experienced multi-sport events like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, so for Courtney, James and Dom it’s nice to see them experience it for the first time.”
Nile’s passion for gymnastics is evident in his You Tube channel, which he has been building for nearly ten years. He currently has over a million subscribers and his catch phrase “train smart, keep it real” can be seen emblazoned on all his merchandise, a clothing business enterprise he runs.
“Not a lot of people know that the first video I uploaded on You Tube was when I was ten or eleven years old,” says Nile. “I want to promote this sport, which I think is the best in the world,” he continues, “by portraying gymnastics in an entertaining way. I’m a bit of a comedian and I just want my videos to put a smile on people’s faces. I’ve changed many people’s lives and got so many into gymnastics, which is the main reason I do it.”
When asked to describe the sport to someone who doesn’t know much about gymnastics, Nile is quick to reply: “Gymnastics is incredible. We are like artists. We are creating art with our bodies and our job is to make it look easy. If someone asked me what I do for a living, I’d say I am a professional athlete. But I do what I love, and it’s never a day of work when you’re doing something that you love every single day.”
The English men went on to win the Commonwealth Games team title, with Nile then becoming the individual all-around champion – despite a sore hand which meant he had put in virtually no training on pommel horse leading up to the event.