Rio 2016: Teenage gymnast Maisie Methuen to get taste of Olympics

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Welsh gymnast Maisie Methuen

Artistic gymnast Maisie Methuen will travel to the Rio Olympics next month as the British Olympic Association looks to prepare her for Tokyo 2020.

The 15-year-old from Pontypool, British all-around junior champion, is one of 39 young athletes and coaches who will experience the Olympic environment.

Methuen hopes it will stand her in good stead as she targets future Games.

"It's going to really prepare me for further down the line, so you know what's coming the next time," she said.

"It's absolutely amazing going to Rio, I can't wait. I know some of the gymnasts going already and I just can't wait to be there supporting them and cheering them on.

"It's to get the experience, to know what's happening and to see all the different sports. I'm not just going there to see gymnastics, I'm going to see rugby which is completely different to gymnastics!

"We're going there to see what the atmosphere is like."

One for the future

No Welsh gymnasts have been selected for Rio, so Methuen has a unique opportunity to get a taste of the Olympics as part of the BOA's "ambition programme".

The scheme, which was first launched for Beijing 2008, is designed to replicate a first Games experience for young British athletes and coaches.

They will visit the facilities at Team GB's preparation camp in Belo Horizonte before flying to Rio to visit the Olympic Village, as well as seeing Team GB in action.

Of the 105 athletes on the Beijing 2008 programme, 43 went on to compete at London 2012.

Ellie Downie, Amy Tinkler, Claudia Fragapane, Becky Downie and Ruby Harrold are the female artistic gymnasts selected to represent Team GB at Rio.
Ellie Downie, Amy Tinkler, Claudia Fragapane, Becky Downie and Ruby Harrold are the female artistic gymnasts selected to represent Team GB at Rio.

While acknowledging that Tokyo 2020 is a long-term aim, Methuen hopes to first earn a place at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

"I'd love to go there, that's one of my main aims," she said.

"I can't wait to go there because instead of competing for Great Britain, I'd be competing for Wales."

Methuen says being selected for the BOA's programme gives her added confidence and motivation as she builds for the future, with Welsh Gymnastics chief executive Rhian Gibson tipping her to make it to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

"It's good that they believe in me and they know that I can do it," said Methuen.

"Being selected for this is amazing and has made me push even harder."

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Home from home

Teenager Methuen lives in Cardiff with eight other gymnasts after moving away from Pontypool to pursue her ambitions.

"We've got this house in Cardiff, it's like five minutes away from my gym which is really good, instead of an hour [from where I used to live]," she said.

"We all have fun and it's nice, we're all in it together and we can all push ourselves.

"I'm not really away from my mum because I only stay there at night so then I come to gym and then my mum picks me up from gym to take me back to my school."

Methuen was part of Great Britain's junior women's team at the European Championships in Switzerland earlier this summer and says one of the challenges she faces is keeping up with her school work when she is competing.

"When I did the Europeans I had three weeks out, so it was quite hard then, but now I've all caught up," she said.

"My school is behind me, they always make sure I've got work when I go away so it's actually quite easy for me to catch up."