SWINDON rhythmic gymnast Jade Faulkner will make what will probably be her last appearance at the British Championships on Saturday after a 14-year career.
A good performance in Stoke-on-Trent could also still see her make the England squad for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
After competing in the Great Britain group at London 2012, Faulkner moved back into individual competition with the hope of qualifying for her second Commonwealth Games. After some indifferent results that aim remains in the balance.
She will be part of a City of Bath team confident of winning medals, and will line-up alongside Olympic teammate Lynne Hutchison. Despite struggling with a lack of funding she could still have one last successful summer.
Faulkner said: “I’m looking forward to being at the British Championships again, as I’ve not competed there for the last three years due to school commitments and because I was training with the Olympic group in 2011 and 2012, so it would be nice to show the audience how much I’ve changed and matured as a gymnast.
“It took quite some time to adjust to being an individual again and I think psychologically it’s been quite hard. While training as part of a group there would always be someone there to support you, and my team were a massive motivation, we pushed each other as well as ourselves.
“I’ve had a few setbacks this year, I haven’t been ranking as high as I would have liked to so far. My priority now is to give a good performance, I can only control what I do, not the rankings.”
The 2012 British group were involved in a high profile battle with British Gymnastics in the lead up to the Olympics and had to appeal to be allowed to compete.
Since the Games, any small amount of funding that was there has disappeared and gymnasts like Faulkner have been left financially backing themselves.
“We had a lot more outside support while in the group and it seemed like it all disappeared as soon as the Games were over,” the 20-year-old said.
“We were hoping that British Gymnastics could help support a group to train at high intensity, possibly for the next Olympics. But when it feels like your own governing body is against you, it’s hard to keep fighting to prove your worthiness.”
The exception to the general lack of support for British rhythmic stars has come in Wales. Welsh Gymnastics have pumped money into their Commonwealth team and are now one of the favourites to win a medal.
Although Faulkner knows that the Welsh have a slight advantage, she still thinks that England could push them for a podium place.
She said: “Wales have been very fortunate to have all the funding and training put in place for them, meaning it’s easier for them to focus purely on training.
“Team England rhythmic gymnasts have had to find funding for themselves. Wales look like strong medal contenders due to all the support, however we cannot discount England from challenging, it is down to what happens on the day.”