Bryony Page has taken her sport to new heights, quite literally.
The Sheffield gymnast claimed Great Britain’s first Olympic medal in trampolining at the Rio Games last year after producing the best routine of her career. Despite completing a routine down on difficulty compared to her peers, the 26-year-old scored the highest marks for execution as she took the silver medal behind reigning champion Rosnnagh MacLennan, of Canada.
“It was a big shock – relief, happiness, even disbelief – to have actually got a medal,” recalls Page, who flew to Brazil as a dark horse for a medal.
“When I realised that I was on the podium, there was just so much emotion it was unreal. If I could have shared that emotion with everybody, it would have been amazing.”
Such was the impact of the medal back home, Page’s trampolining club in Sheffield received more than 100 calls that night from parents of interested youngsters wanting to take up the sport.
As a sport, gymnastics has been one of the biggest growing since the Games after a groundbreaking haul of seven medals and the golden exploits of Max Whitlock. Page believes her success has already kick-started greater knowledge towards her own event.
I want to push myself to see where my limits and boundaries are, and then push beyond that.Sheffield gymnast, Bryony Page
“People have a bigger understanding of trampolining,” she added. “It’s still a minority sport, people see it as an outdoor thing to be done in the garden.
“As I was growing up, it wasn’t a sport that people understood so when people say ‘I did not realise how high you jump and what skills you can do’, that’s really special to me.”
Inspiring the next generation was the key footnote to a London Games that Page agonisingly missed out on in 2012 through illness and injury, a year after finishing fourth at the World Championships.
The realisation of how close she came to making the Games herself brought emotions to a head.
“Walking into the trampolining arena in London, I remember just sitting down and crying,” said Page.
“I couldn’t stop my eyes streaming because I was so sad that I wasn’t there. The roar of the crowd was incredible and that motivated me. The low of not wanting to miss out and the family celebrating success. It was definitely a huge motivator rather than a hindrance and helped me on the way to Rio.”
Four years on, Page headed to Rio with high spirits that Britain could end their 16-year wait for a trampoline medal at the Games.
“It’s not something you expect, it’s something you strive for and believe you can do,” she added.
“When it actually happens, it’s the most incredible feeling.”
Page’s motivation has now moved towards stretching out her career to replicate heroes like Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katherine Grainger.
Sheffield compatriot Ennis-Hill appeared on a hand-made poster hanging on Page’s bedroom door prior to the Rio Games alongside the trampolinists motivational phrase ‘the only person that you should be better than is the person you were yesterday’.
School visits are now mixed into her training schedule as she prepares for further honours at the British and World Championships later this year, although ankle surgery over the winter has delayed the start of the latest Olympiad.
A golden moment in Tokyo would be the icing on the cake but Page insists it is not the only factor driving her forward.
“I don’t feel too much pressure,” she said. “I love trampoline and will always be part of it in some way.
“I feel proud to be part of it, a system that has been successful and one that is trying to improve and be world class likes athletics, diving, cycling where they have that world class system.
“For me, I’m excited to have four years of less fear of not reaching my potential.
“I want to push myself to see where my limits and boundaries are, and then push beyond that.
“Although I reached my potential in Rio, I think there’s more to give.
“If I can make another Olympic Games that would be amazing, but four years is a long time, especially in the world of gymnastics.”