21 year old Rebecca Bee from Aberdeen, eats, sleeps and lives gymnastics and doesn’t quite know what she would have done without it.
She just missed out on the Commonwealth Games in Delhi at the tender age of 15, however with hindsight she knows that she wasn’t really ready for it, and is now even more determined to grasp the opportunity second time around.
Becky, as she is known, has been involved in her beloved sport of gymnastics for most of her life and is a member of the Beacon Gymnastics Club.
“When I was 18 months old my mum took me to Kindergym, actually in the same gym I train in now and then I progressed into artistic gymnastics which is what most young girls do. But when I was seven years old my coach saw some potential in me, because I was so supple and I started rhythmic gymnastics, so I have now been doing the sport for 11 years.”
“My mum did gymnastics, but not to a very high level and my brother also did, so I naturally just followed suit. I watched lots of top gymnasts on Youtube and wanted to be like them. I can’t imagine what else I would do with my time if I didn’t have gymnastics.”
Rhythmic gymnastics was first introduced into the Commonwealth Games in 1990 and involves performing four routines to music using different pieces of apparatus; rope, hoop, ball and ribbon both as an “all-around” competition and individual apparatus finals. It requires flexibility, technical skill and grace and is one of the most photogenic sports in the Games. However the glamorous nature of the sport often belies the hard work and skill involved.
“People think it is really easy and simply involves waving a ribbon around, but there is much more to it than that. It’s really hard work and you should see us in the gym without all the make-up and covered in sweat after a full day of training.”
Becky is now on a sports scholarship at the city’s Robert Gordon University and combines her training with studying Applied Social Sciences. However with the Games only a year away training has reached a critical point if Becky is to qualify for Team Scotland and she is already planning the next year carefully.
“I am looking at taking a year out of University next year, to go into full time training and gain more experience at international competitions. I have represented Scotland at international level, but not at anything as big as the Commonwealth Games. It would mean so much to qualify for the Games, as I just missed out on Delhi when I was only 15. I was very young and inexperienced then and I am much stronger now, so to qualify for Glasgow would confirm I was capable of competing at that level and a home Games as well would be a real bonus.”
“My coach Sue Morgan is like a second mother and is really encouraging, so to qualify for the Games would be reward for her as well. Knowing she had coached someone to that level would be a real achievement for both of us.”
Whilst not everyone understands the demands of being an elite athlete, Becky values those friends that do and give her so much added support.
“My friends are largely supportive although some of them don’t really understand. My best friend Hayley (Monteith) is hoping to be part of the swimming team at the Games and is also part of the sportscotland institute of sport set-up, so we both know what each other is going through. We both have really busy schedules so hardly see each other, but it is good to know that you have got a friend who genuinely understands when you say you can’t come out tonight, and I think the sacrifices will be worth it in the end.”
Daring to dream for just a moment she adds: “The thought of walking out into the arena and knowing you are part of Team Scotland, particularly here in Scotland will be something I am sure I would never forget, and it would just be fantastic to reach that level in your sport and would be the highlight of my sporting career.”
“Also, you spend so much time in the gym with your own sport; it would be really good to mix with athletes from the other 17 sports. At Robert Gordon I get to meet some of the other sports scholars and it is really good to learn from what they do, how they train and what motivates them.”
“I think the crowds will get behind everyone and it will be a really great atmosphere to compete in. But in particular it would mean so much to my parents; particularly my mum who first got me involved in the sport. And after all they have also had to put up with the highs and the lows over the last 16 years!”
Rebecca has the opportunity at the Scottish Championships in Aberdeen this weekend (30 June) to start to turn her dream into a reality.
You can follow Becky on Twitter @RebeccaBee1994
Photo Credit: Alistair Devine