As far as standout years go, Nile Wilson has probably had the best of his life. After his early beginnings in the sport at just four-years-old, the gruelling hours of hard work and steely determination finally paid off when his lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian was realised.With the eyes of the world on him, Nile soared through a near perfect routine and cemented his name in history as he took the bronze and became the first ever Britain to win an Olympic medal on the high bar.Now having had the chance to reflect on his phenomenal success, Yorkshire’s king of the swing says the Olympics was everything he hoped it would be: “I had the best three weeks of my life and the whole experience was absolutely incredible. Being there in the athlete’s village and meeting all these amazing people was fantastic and then to come home with a medal just made it for me and topped off the whole experience.”
“To make history is an amazing achievement and the expectations were so high, but I was so proud of my performance and all I was thinking about was doing the best that I could do on that day.”Of course while the British team enjoyed a string of medal successes, including two golds, a silver and two bronze, they didn’t get off to the flying start they had hoped for, facing disappointment in the team final after just missing out on the medals in fourth place.
“We put it all out there in the final and that team medal was our main goal, so to come fourth was disappointing and a bit gutting,” he recalls. “But then we bounced back in the individuals and to take five medals was absolutely incredible, so I think in the end that fourth place did spur us on and definitely inspired us individually.”As the individual wins started to filter in, including team mate Max Whitlock’s double gold victory, Nile had to endure a long wait before his crowning moment, but he proved to be more than capable of handling the pressure.
“The waiting and time in between was challenging and with all the nerves and pressure I was under I was just happy to do a clean routine, so to come away with a bronze was unbelievable,” he says. “I have a bit of a ritual where I say to myself ‘come on, I can do this’ and it’s something I’ve done since I was a kid. It’s a bit of positive self-talk and psychologically it helps me get ready for my routine. Going into that final I knew I had a great chance and I’m just so happy with how I performed throughout the whole competition.”
And when his moment on the podium did finally arrive, he assures me it was 100% worth the wait.“The emotion kind of took me by surprise, but I think it shows just how much it means. You train for so long for so many years and you have to sacrifice so much. The tears were a bit of a shock, but it was a very special moment for me.”
While Wilson may have made his way into the medals on the high bar, he also proved he’s quite the multitalented gymnast after securing eighth place in the all-round final.“To come eighth in the world at my first Olympics at 20 years-old is an amazing feeling and I’m so proud of that,” he beams. “I want to be the best all-rounder in the world and I want to become World and Olympic Champion, so I know I need to improve my weaker areas. My goal is to keep performing and making finals on the world stage and I want to be challenging for medals every time.”
He has certainly proved himself as one of the greats and he admits seeing Max claim double Olympic glory has inspired him to go on to do the same.“I’ve trained with Max for many years now and to see him do that was just incredible and so inspirational,” he says. “To become Olympic Champion is what we all dream of and it’s certainly inspired me for Tokyo. I want to go there and repeat what he did, if not better, so now it’s back to hard work and I’m really excited for the next four years.”
Since his return to Yorkshire, Wilson is still having the time of his life as he heads back into training to tackle new skills and prepare
for the next big championships, with his mind already eyeing Olympic glory in 2020.“Coming home and heading back in to normal training is quite challenging when you’ve had that kind of experience, but it’s what I love to do. When you’re in competition mode the training is very intense, so it’s nice just to enjoy it and learn some new things, and to scare yourself a little bit and get that heart pumping,” he laughs. “The next big competition season kicks off in the new year and I’ll be working towards the European and World Championships. I’ve also been invited to the World Cup Series which is really exciting. It’s just about continuing to do these major events and I want to be in the best shape possible to be challenging for those medals.”
But with so many achievements to his name, what’s next for the ambitious 20 year-old?“Now I’ve got the full set of medals from all of
the major events, it’s amazing just to step back and be able to say I’ve got World, European, Commonwealth and Olympic titles,” he beams. “But now I’m focusing on becoming champion and I want the gold! World and Olympic Champion is what I’ve dreamed about, so I’m going to do everything possible to achieve those goals and dreams.”