Junior star Wilson proves he belongs in gymnastics’ elite

England's Nile Wilson competes on the pommel horse during the Men's Team Final and Individual Qualification at the SEE Hydro, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
England's Nile Wilson competes on the pommel horse during the Men's Team Final and Individual Qualification at the SEE Hydro, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
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Two years ago, Nile Wilson of Leeds was still competing in schools competitions – now he is a Commonwealth Games champion.

The 18-year-old from Leeds Gymnastics Club was part of the five-man England squad that convincingly won the team gold medal in Glasgow yesterday.

Despite having far less experience than team-mates Louis Smith, Max Whitlock, Kristian Thomas and Sam Oldham – all of whom were medallists at the London 2012 Olympics – Wilson never looked out of place as he helped the team post an unassailable total of 266.804.

It is a far cry from two years ago, when Wilson was sweeping all before him in winning the UK schools championship, as well as the British rings and high bar titles.

Wilson, the five-time junior European champion who took up gymnastics at the age of four, said: “This whole experience has been unbelievable – the village with a multi-sport environment first of all and then the atmosphere in this arena is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

“I’ve had the time of my life here.”

England’s men, who won the team title for the first time since 2002, had topped the pile at the halfway stage on Monday night with Scotland second and Canada in third.

Wales, who started the second day of the team final in fourth place, had a shaky start on the vault and did not hit top form on the parallel bars before achieving a final total of 241.385 after the high bar to sit in fifth behind Australia (246.941).

England and Scotland both resumed in the next sub-division, with Whitlock and Thomas impressing on the vault while Purvis led Scotland’s medal charge on the parallel bars.

However, Oldham landed awkwardly after his vault and was carried from the apparatus after clutching his left ankle before leaving the arena shortly afterwards in a wheelchair for a scan.

It meant England were left to compete on the parallel bars and high bar with a man down, with three scores needed on each to go towards the team total.

Pommel horse specialist Smith stepped up on the parallel bars and was bettered by Whitlock and Wilson as England’s charge continued.

Scotland’s Baines impressed on the high bar before Keatings came back from an earlier tumble on the parallel bars to achieve a solid score.

The final rotation saw England on the high bar and Scotland on the vault, with Whitlock again sticking a clean routine as he topped the all-around qualification with a score of 14.766 to give him a total of 90.365.

Wilson and Thomas finished off England’s team medal bid with clean and high-scoring routines which secured them gold as there were no real challengers in the later session, while a strong series of vaults left Scotland with silver.

The scores from team competition also doubled up as qualification marks for individual finals, with Yorkshire’s Wilson qualifying for today’s all-around final as well as the deciding contests on the rings, parallel bars and high bar which are contested later in the week.

Whitlock also qualified for the floor, pommel horse, rings, parallel bars and high bar finals while Thomas will go in the high bar, vault and floor, with Smith on the pommel horse.

England’s women’s team of Becky Downie, Hannah Whelan, Ruby Harrold, Claudia Fragapane and Kelly Simm also tasted victory after they amassed a total of 167.555 to see off the challenge of Australia and Canada who finished in second and fourth place as Wales claimed bronze.

Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. We work with sports, Sponsors and Sport England to support the development of athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.