Sticking the landing with gymnast, Becky Sumner

Following the 2022 Artistic Gymnastics British Championships in Liverpool, Tenielle Jordison bounces questions off ex-competitive gymnast Becky Sumner

A gymnast in purple uniform is suspended in mid air as she flips on the beam
Photo by Eugene Lim on Unsplash
  1. So, what does a typical day of training for gymnast, Becky Sumner look like?

Generally, we did three practices a week. Saturday was my longest training day with practices for competition lasting all day. We would start at about 9am, go to lunch for 30 minutes and continue until about 4pm. In the evening we would have a practice competition where we would do run after run of our routine, then we would focus independently on each skill until we were perfect on technique. 

  1. And what exactly is the chalk for?

Chalk is for grip, usually for the uneven bars in women’s artistic gymnastics, although it can be used for the other pieces of apparatus too. Personally, it provided a lot of comfort and aided me psychologically; it helps by limiting the amount of sweat in your hands and stops you slipping. 

  1. Tell the truth, are leotards comfortable to wear?

With leotards a lot can depend on the style and cut. Competition leotards tend to be the least comfortable as you don’t choose them yourself. The problem is they don’t hide anything and that can be very stressful. But I don’t think a leotard has ever been an issue for me because they don’t get in the way like other uniforms would.

  1. How scary is the balance beam?

Beam for me was one of the scariest pieces of apparatus because it’s only four inches wide. When I used to do beam, I would always make sure that my skills were perfect on the floor before putting them up onto the high beam. 

  1. Onto stretching, how much stretching do you have to do to stay flexible?

Stretching should ideally be done everyday, although this can be really hard when you have other priorities. I was quite lucky that my flexibility came naturally but this isn’t the case for most people. Stretching the day after practice was always really crucial for me because my muscles would be sore.  

  1. How often do injuries happen? 

Injuries are so common in gymnastics. It’s a high powered sport with lots of apparatus. I had a few injuries over the years, including a heel injury when I was 15. This is often hard to recover from because you need to keep practising to maintain your skills and even a few missed practices can affect your routines.