Hometown Hero: Hamish Carter

July 25, 2022

Gymnast Hamish Carter has travelled a bit in pursuit of a career in elite sport. So he’s thrilled at the prospect of competing in his home town for Team Scotland. 

Born in Nottingham and raised in Birmingham, Carter qualifies for Scotland via a maternal grandfather from Hawick. A key member of the men’s squad who won bronze in the team event four years ago in Gold Coast, he sat down for a Q&A session with Michael Baillie. 

Q: You were born in Nottingham and grew up in Birmingham but compete for Scotland, what was the process of you deciding to represent Scotland on the international stage?  

A: “I was born in Nottingham and then moved to Birmingham when I was 13 for gymnastics. The whole family moved down, I changed schools and everything.  

“It was a huge commitment from my parents but it worked out well for everyone. It came at a time when Angus, my little brother, was going into secondary school so he was going into a new school anyway.  

“My mum Michele’s side of the family are from Hawick. So, I guess I was destined to compete for Scotland with the name Hamish.  

“Before the last Commonwealth Games my mum was looking forward to seeing me in a kilt and I’m sure she is looking forward to seeing me in another one.  

“I’ve still got the kilt from the last Games, although I’ve not worn it since one of the events after the Games at Stirling Castle. I thought it was cool wearing a kilt, I’d never done it before.  

“Team England was really strong but I always wanted to represent Scotland. It was the best decision I made. I absolutely love competing for Scotland and just representing that flag is special for me, even though I have lived in England all my life. It definitely calls to me in some capacity.  

“My mum’s side were all exceptionally happy to hear I was competing for Scotland at the 2018 Games.”  

Q: Being from Birmingham, this is a home Games for you. How excited are you by that?  

A: “The experience of having the Games in Australia was something and the Gold Coast was beautiful. But to have it right next to my house, to have my family and friends there and it being a true home Games, I’m really looking to it and it will be so special.  

“Much like many of Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014, having the Games for me in the city where my entire life is, with my friends and family there, will be very special.  

“I’ll have school friends coming to watch and that’s inspiring me. I can celebrate with them – and so many of them have done so much to support me.”  

Q: How was your experience of the last Commonwealth Games, when you were part of the team who won the bronze medal, with you performing the floor routine which got them on the podium?  

A: “That was definitely the pinnacle of my career, it was the biggest competition I’d done to date.  

“Everything about it, I hadn’t experienced before, the pressure, it was a phenomenal competition. I loved the Athletes’ Village; it was really special to be part of it all.  

“Paul Hall, who is now the GB national coach and was at that time the Team Scotland Coach, said “We need a 13.7 from you to get the bronze medal ahead of Cyprus …” prior to my floor routine.  

“That added a bit of pressure but it was more of an incentive to compete better. I got a 14.275.  

“Those are the moments you live for; I look back at those Games and there were a number of moments when I feel I developed and evolved as a gymnast because of the pressure. My first pommel routine on the first day of competing, the first time I raised my arm at the Commonwealth Games, it was immense. I hit that pommel routine really well.  

“I thoroughly enjoyed it and was definitely a more accomplished gymnast after competing at those Games.”  

Q: You narrowly missed out on a medal in the Men’s Individual Floor Exercise final, finishing fourth, how tough was that to take and what did you learn from it?  

A: “That was unfortunate as I had a really good routine and I could have come away with the gold – but one small slip meant I finished fourth. I was still happy with that.  

“I wouldn’t have had it any other way; first, second, third or fourth, it was the experience that counted for me, and I definitely gained a lot of that at those Games.”  

Q: What are your hopes and aspirations for Birmingham 2022?  

A: “My hopes and ambitions are to definitely defend the team medal, that’s our primary goal as Team Scotland, to get a medal, whatever colour.  

“My all-around has become a lot stronger since the previous Games, so I hope to place. A podium finish would be amazing and I think I’ve got the potential to do that.  

“I’d like to qualify for finals in my strongest events; parallel bars, high bar and floor. 

“As much competing as I can is important to me and I’ll gain a lot of experience, there’s a lot of emphasis on the result.  But I just want to go out and do my best gymnastics.”  

Q: You have been in the United States at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign since 2018.  How has competing in the NCAA enhanced your development and have you enjoyed life on the other side of the Atlantic?  

A: “I’ve got one more semester left. I’m doing psychology and my specialisation in that is behavioural neuroscience.   

“The US Olympic team all come from college gymnastics, so there’s a lineage of elite gymnasts that come from it and the depth of talent is much greater. So I’m competing in a field that’s much deeper than it is in the UK and, gymnastically, it’s been such a good thing for me to go to the US.  

“I’ve loved it, I’ve made great friends, I’ve thrived in that team environment – and I feel my gymnastics has improved tenfold. I’ve learned so much from being in that team.  

“I’m based about two hours south of Chicago and I haven’t been to any professional sporting event yet – but I really want to go and see the Chicago Cubs playing baseball and go to a Chicago Bears football game.  

“But I’ve been to watch the University’s basketball team and that’s huge.”  

Q: Who inspired you as a young gymnast and do you hope to inspire the next generation?  

A: “I actually competed with Dan Purvis at the last Games and that’s a guy, when I was very young, I used to go to national squads and watch him train. Then, a number of years later, I’m on the same team as him and winning a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. 

“Not many gymnasts in the GB squad go over to America and compete in the NCAA and then return and maintain their position on the squad but, if I can show that’s possible, then other kids will do that too.  

“It’s the same with the Games; inspiring people to compete is always important.” 

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