Leeds’ Olympic and Commonwealth Games hero Nile Wilson retires through injury
The 24-year-old, from Pudsey became Great Britain’s first Olympic medallist on the high bar in Rio in 2016, and recovered from ankle surgery to claim three gold medals at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
But Wilson was also forced to undergo neck surgery in 2019, leaving his quest to qualify for this year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics hanging in the balance.
He initially rose to prominence on a tidal wave of growing interest in gymnastics, which had first been sparked by the performances of Louis Smith Smith and Beth Tweddle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and enriched by Team GB’s bronze medal in the team final at London 2012.
It was Max Whitlock who then dominated the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, but it was there where Wilson announced himself on the global stage with two golds of his own, going on to medal bronze at the Rio Olympics in a thrilling horizontal bar final.
By the time of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 he was ready to step into Whitlock’s shoes, leading the team with a five-medal performance, including winning two gold medals in the space of two hours which demonstrated his versatility, focus and the level of belief in his own ability.
Injuries began to creep in though, forcing him out of major championships and eventually, the sport.
In an emotional post on his Instagram account, the 24-year-old said: “Today I hang up my hand guards and retire from the professional sport of gymnastics.
“Gymnastics, you are the best sport in the world! You are my first love, my addiction, you set me free, you gave me purpose and you gave me experiences I could not even have dreamed of!
“Unfortunately my body could not keep up.. and that’s OK. It is my time to move on and I can’t wait for the next chapter.”
In August last year, Wilson launched a scathing attack on British Gymnastics over the governing body’s treatment of a complaint he lodged with them, describing a “culture of abuse” and claiming athletes were “treated like pieces of meat”.
But the governing body quickly paid tribute, saying: “As well as his performances on the competition floor, through his personality and online presence, Nile has brought a new audience to the sport of gymnastics.
“Nile’s passion and personality have shone throughout his career and his legacy is not only of medals but also of his influence in transforming the perception of the sport; inspiring, entertaining and motivating thousands across the world.
“We would like to take this opportunity to wish Nile all the very best for the future.”
Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.