Commonwealth Games: Nile Wilson sets bar on being the best of British

Leeds gymnast Nile Wilson will forever hold fond memories of 2014.

England's Nile Wilson with his gold medal won in the Men's Horizontal Bar Final, at the SSE Hydro, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
England's Nile Wilson with his gold medal won in the Men's Horizontal Bar Final, at the SSE Hydro, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

A haul of two golds, one silver and one bronze was a particularly impressive return from the then 18-year-old’s first Commonwealth Games.

That, though, is envisaged to be just the start for a gymnast now targeting four titles on the Gold Coast of Australia en route to leapfrogging even Max Whitlock as his country’s most successful gymnast of all time.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Having bagged a plethora of medals as a junior, Wilson burst onto the stage at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealths, helping England win a team gold plus three medals individually through an all-around bronze, parallel bars silver and best of all, gold in the horizontal bar.

England's Nile Wilson on his way to winning the gold medal during the Men's Horizontal Bar Final in 2014. (Pictures: PA)

It was a portent for further glories with Wilson helping Great Britain to a team silver at the 2015 World Championships before securing his most cherished medal yet through an Olympic bronze in the horizontal bar event at the 2016 Rio Olympics in which team-mate Whitlock famously bagged two golds and a bronze to become Britain’s most successful gymnast in the sport’s history.

But three years his junior, 22-year-old Wilson has his eyes on a similar mantle himself as he targets another impressive haul at his second Commonwealth Games.

“I got four medals at my first Commonwealth Games – two golds, one silver and one bronze,” said Wilson.“So we’ll make it four golds this time yes?! Of course, that’s my goal.

“I am not doing the all-around event unfortunately as I have got a minor hand injury so I can’t get on the pommel horse but I had an incredible British Championships the other weekend where I came away with six gold medals so I am just going to go out there to do the best gymnastics I can and I know that’s capable of bringing that same medal haul home.

Olympic gymnast Nile Wilson at his base at the Leeds Gymnastic Club. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“I’ll be doing five events, everything but the pommel horse but, obviously, my strongest ones are rings, parallel bars and high bar and we have got the team event as well. It will be an exciting Games. It’s an exciting event and there is not so much pressure in terms of gymnastics results as we will be fairly well up there.

“It’s just about enjoying the profile of the event, the enormity of it and the experience.”

Another big medal haul at the Commonwealths would be particularly impressive for Wilson considering the Pudsey gymnast snapped ligaments in his ankle last January during a basic parallel bars routine.

Yet just nine months later, Wilson had recovered to such a degree that he was able to finish sixth in the all around final at October’s World Championships in Montreal.

England's Nile Wilson on his way to winning the gold medal during the Men's Horizontal Bar Final in 2014. (Pictures: PA)

Longer term, the young Yorkshireman’s aim is to go five places better at this autumn’s World Championships in Qatar en route to his bid to become his country’s most successful male gymnast.

Double Olympic and world champion Whitlock sets the bar on that score and Wilson admits his England team-mate is an inspiration but the Leeds star is also proud of his own progress as a Vlogger with his YouTube channel showing various gymnastics tricks and treats now surpassing 700,000 subscribers – 600,000 more than Whitlock’s.

“I love Vlogging, I absolutely love it and it could go big,” beamed Wilson.

“It’s all about how you define success because I could be known as the biggest gymnast in the country maybe without all the gold medals. But I want both, definitely.

Olympic gymnast Nile Wilson at his base at the Leeds Gymnastic Club. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“Medal-wise, of course I am excited and I want to become the best in the world.

“I just want to promote this sport and put this sport on the map.

“I want to be the man that when everyone mentions gymnastics or thinks about gymnastics they think of me and think of my name regardless of gold medals or silver medals.”

Wilson added: “I have said it before, but the Olympics bronze medal has zero correlation to my happiness right now.

“It’s on my kitchen side, I walk past it every day and that became very apparent to me very soon after the Olympic Games.

“It’s more about the journey and what you do but just I want to be the most successful gymnast this country has ever produced.”

That is something, well within his capability.