LEEDS gymnastics star Nile Wilson has set his sights on the next three Olympic Games on the eve of his date with a star-studded Team GB at the World Championships in Glasgow.
Wilson forms part of a male sextet that also features an MBE in Louis Smith alongside fellow London 2012 medallists Max Whitlock, Kristian Thomas and Daniel Purvis, as well as 18-year-old debutante Brinn Bevan.
And while the introduction of Bevan means baby-faced Wilson is no longer the bambino of the group, at 19 years of age the Yorkshireman has every right to dream of not just Rio next summer but Tokyo 2020 and the 2024 Olympics for which Paris is favourite to be the host venue.
Despite his tender years, next week’s assignment represents Wilson’s second world championships with the teenager having boarded the plane to China last year backed by an incredible four-medal haul at the Commonwealth Games.
Wilson qualified for last year’s high bar and all-round final but then had to withdraw from the competition with a wrist injury that he feared might scupper his chances of cementing his place in the Team GB squad for next year’s Olympics in Rio.
But ten months shy of next year’s Olympics in South America, Wilson is clearly at the forefront of team selectors’ minds with the likelihood being that a long and illustrious international gymnastics career is only just beginning.
“I want to stay for as long as I can,” Wilson told The Yorkshire Post.
“It is a high demand on your body, I’m 19 years old but I can already tell the guys who are a little bit older are finding it hard and their training schedules are a little different from ours.
“But as long as I can stay fit and healthy and stay away from injuries then I would love to stay on for another two Olympic cycles. It would be great.
“Hopefully I can go to these world championships and prove that I belong in that environment. If I can do that then Rio is definitely on the cards.
“It’s coming up fast so the important thing is staying fit and healthy and I can definitely be there.”
The Glasgow event also acts as a qualifier for Rio and a top-eight finish in the men’s team event will guarantee the squad a ticket to Brazil.
Next year’s Games is the one that really matters but Wilson is in no doubt as to the prestige of next week’s tournament in its own right.
“The world championships, outside the Olympic Games, is the biggest competition for a gymnast ever,” he said.
“To show that you are winning medals on the world stage is incredible and this competition is qualification for Rio so getting a team in that top eight is important.
“I think we are going into this competition just focused on that team result and not worrying too much about individuals.
“If we are successful in the team event then the individual stuff will come after.
“We were fourth last year so we know we are more than capable of making that final and for us our goal is to be challenging for the medals.
“We came fourth by a close margin last year and we’re a stronger team now I’m sure of it.
“It’s a home games so we’ve got that home support and crowd behind us so it will be really exciting to watch.”
The championships will also see Wilson return to something of a happy hunting ground in Glasgow, at a venue in which he profited on the floor and off it.
The teenager took two golds, a silver and a bronze at last year’s Commonwealths but also found love with student medal bearer Sophie Brewster who presented the gymnast with his first gold.
Fifteenth months later, Brewster will be cheering her man in the Hydro Arena in what will be a poignant event for the young couple just over one year on from their first year anniversary.
Wilson admitted: “We are back in the Hydro Arena again which brings very, very good memories obviously from the Commonwealth Games last year.
“I’m so excited to get back in that arena as every time I went out at the Commonwealths it gave me goosebumps. If it’s anything like it was back then it will be something special and something not to miss.”
Reflecting on the return to Glasgow amidst the 15-month anniversary since meeting Miss Brewster, Wilson laughed: “She’ll be there. She’ll be shouting and cheering in the crowd along with my family and that will be great to see as well.
“It will be awesome, I’m sure it will bring back lots of great memories from the Commonwealths last year.
“It changed my life for the better that competition. Hopefully I can produce as good a result as I did then.”