At just 23 years of age, Nile Wilson knows he has already given his quest for gymnastics global domination a pretty good crack.
An Olympic bronze, a World Championships silver, five Commonwealth Games golds, defiance in the face of injury and a million subscribers on You Tube as the sport’s leading Vlogger.
One day, Wilson will go from Vlogger to author and already has the experiences to create a likely best seller. But even in spite of recent spinal surgery, the gymnast is still confident of penning the most important chapter of all at next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Leeds Gymnastics Club ace Wilson is nearly two months into his recovery following surgery to correct a neck issue and ongoing arm pain.
Defying injury is nothing new for the Yorkshireman who finished sixth in the all around final at the 2017 World Championships just eight months after snapping ankle ligaments. Arguably better still, the gymnast then took gold in the all around final at last year’s Commonwealth Games without the full use of his hand as part of a haul of three golds and two silvers.
The Pudsey ace has already amassed an impressive haul and the difficult circumstances in which he has gained some of those medals is acting as the perfect tonic in the demanding times of rehabilitation following surgery. Wilson now faces perhaps his biggest battle so far but one the Leeds ace is confident of overcoming to create the best moment yet of his glittering career.
It’s about being back better than ever and going to Tokyo as the best gymnast I have ever been. I know I am capable of winning an Olympic gold medal.Nile Wilson
“All I am thinking about which is quite funny is that I am going to have a hell of a book at the end of the road,” smiled Wilson. “I’ll have lots of stories to tell and it’s going to be a great story when I come through this stronger, bigger, better.
“Adversity is a massive part and my attitude is very, very positive and I’m excited to stick it to them when I win.
“When things like this happen, you fear it is going to be the phone call or the words from the doctor saying ‘it’s the end, your career is done, you can’t continue to do gymnastics’ and that would be the worst fear of my life.
“But if it was that phone call I can step back and say ‘do you know what, I gave it a good bash and I gave it a good shot.’
“It’s not that fortunately – I will do what I am told and I have got more to give, I have got more potential to fulfil and I think the most important part is just enjoying it, enjoying the process and having fun – with gymnastics, with Vlogging, with business, with everything that I am doing, just enjoying my life really and being happy.”
Wilson is hoping to return in time for this year’s Stuttgart World Championships in October but next year’s Tokyo Olympics is clearly the event that matters most. The 23-year-old is hoping that eventually his recent surgery will be viewed as a blessing in disguise.
“It’s been a long-term injury,” explained Wilson.
“I have been struggling with it since last summer but in early February I did something where, boom, it went, the disc had torn inside, pushed out, bulged and it was pressing on my C7 nerve. I was in 10 out of 10 pain for a good five or six days and for the following week so the surgery was the right thing to do and moving forward it is the best thing for me for the gymnastic success I want to achieve.”
Through his army of followers on social media, modern day man Wilson has been keeping his fans updated as to his recent progress. An open and honest Wilson admitted last weekend that he was finding the road to recovery difficult and that being unable to do what he loves best – training and competing – was taking its toll. There are, though, those memories of past achievements in adversity to help pull the Yorkshireman through.
Wilson reasoned: “Looking back, the adversities that I have already been through have been such a driver in the success that I have had today so I have got to remember that and then just push through these next six months of rehab.
“Perspective and gratitude is probably the biggest thing and when the career is done and dusted, no-one will be talking about the spinal surgery, it will be about the success and everything is going to be absolutely fine.
“We are going to be at Tokyo next year which is the main goal and I am very, very grateful to have the best of the best team around me to help me through this process.”
Wilson added: “Fingers crossed I’m back for the Worlds in October. It’s a bit of a push but I believe I can do it, with the right training, the best team around me and being the best professional I can be when I need to be. If not, it’s all about next year – we will be back with a bang and Tokyo is the big dream.
“It’s about being back better than ever and going to Tokyo as the best gymnast I have ever been. Then the results will speak for themselves. I know I am capable of winning an Olympic gold medal.”