Scots teenager will use Delhi experience to push for a gymnastics medal at next year’s games
Gymnast Amy Regan does a good line in bittersweet. Back in 2010, she went to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi as a callow 15-year-old just along for the experience and missed out on a medal by a whisker, unexpectedly finishing fourth but knowing that she was within touching distance of her lifetime goal.
Next weekend, the Giffnock teenager will once again be left with a bittersweet taste at the World Cup event held at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena when she will be part of the warm-up act, performing her floor routine before the competition proper gets under way. She is, she says with commendable understatement, “pretty excited” to be appearing but “pretty fed up” not to be actually competing for Team GB. Yet she knows that the training schedule put in place for all of the Scottish gymnasts to peak for the Commonwealth Games, a schedule which clashed with the Team GB trials for the World Cup events and means there will be no Scottish girls competing in Glasgow, takes precedence over everything else.
“Performing well at next year’s Commonwealth Games is my one and only priority,” she says. “The moment I decided that I wanted to take gymnastics really seriously was when I was seven and I saw Steve Frew win Scotland’s first Commonwealth gold medal in gymnastics [in Manchester in 2002], so the Commonwealth Games have always meant a lot to me. Having the Games in Glasgow will be an amazing experience for everyone, but particularly for Scots like me. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so even missing out on a World Cup event in Glasgow will be worthwhile if I can win a medal next year.”
Regan started at the age of three when she followed her eight-year-old sister Shona, who now coaches her alongside her main coach Sandy Richardson at the City of Glasgow gymnastics club, and has gradually developed into a powerful gymnast who can compete across all four disciplines, but whose floor work is widely acknowledged to be superb. Indeed, it was on the floor that she came so close to winning a medal back in 2010.
“Fingers crossed, I think my chances of winning a medal next year are pretty good,” she says. “In 2010 I finished fourth in the floor final and I’ve come on enough that, hopefully, I can go at least one better. There’s a medal for each discipline – floor, beam, bar, vault plus one for the overall – so I’ll have five chances to shine. I like the floor the best, and it’s my strongest piece as well so that’s my best bet. When I came fourth on the floor at Delhi in 2010, it was totally unexpected. I went there as a 15-year-old looking to get some experience not expecting to get anywhere near that and almost came away with a medal.
“The experience of being in Delhi was incredible and should stand me in good stead. I was very young and had no experience of big competitions, so it just blew me away. The whole thing was an experience I’ll never forget. When the Indian gymnasts came out the crowd would go crazy and I just kept thinking: ‘This could be me in four years in Glasgow’. To compete in front of my friends and family in my home country will be amazing.”
Regan has the calibre and track record to show that such a show of confidence is not misplaced. In the summer she won the overall title at the Scottish Championships in Perth for the fourth year in succession, and she has performed creditably on the wider stage, too, finishing third on the vault at the British Championships in March. She sees the English, Canadians and Australians as the strongest Commonwealth gymnastic teams, while her own personal nemesis is likely to be highly-rated Canadian Victoria Moors, who won silver on the floor at the World Cup in China last year and is rated as the favourite for the gold.
Yet the sports science student knows that the benefit of a home Games is that she has a chance to completely rewrite the formbook. “Having it in Glasgow does put pressure on you because, of course, you want to go out and show everyone in your home country how good you are,” she says. “You know you’ll never have another opportunity like this one, and it gives me goosebumps every time I think about it. But I try not to dwell on it because I try not to put too much pressure on myself at this stage. That pressure will come though, and that’s a good thing because it really helped the Indian girls in Delhi and I’m hoping it’ll have the same effect upon me.”
Regan knows that she will be inspired by the presence of Scotland’s exceptional male athletes, with Olympic medallists Daniel Keatings and Dan Purvis leading the charge, and thinks that they will also provide a huge fillip for the women’s team in general and Regan in particular. “I know the guys pretty well because we’ve travelled to competitions with them,” she says. “What they achieved in London was incredible.”
Between now and 24 June, when the gymnastics kick off in front of the Hydro arena’s crowd of 12,500, Regan has an exhausting schedule. She has a break until early 2014 having competed last week at the Northern European Championships in Belfast, but the first half of 2014 will see her flying all over the world in search of ranking points to make her selection – already virtually assured – a certainty. Regan met the qualification standard at the Scottish Artistic Gymnastics Championships in June, but the other four members of the team need to reach it by the time of team selection in late April.
Once this weekend is over, the build-up to the Games will dominate her life. “The tension is really rising, you can just feel it,” she says. “The closer we get the more it’ll be on the television and in the papers. People are now starting to come up to me in the street to talk about the Games. It is going to be great. I just hope I do myself justice.”