Georgia-Mae Fenton: Her Rise to Olympic Stardom
British artistic gymnast Georgia-Mae Fenton is officially a Prevayl Pro. In between witnessing manoeuvres, that frankly, the human body shouldn’t be able to carry out, and putting the uneven bars to good use, we were genuinely in awe of Georgia-Mae’s positive mindset towards life.
It’s rare for someone to truly realise their dreams. For many it doesn’t happen at all, and for most, it’s not until much later in life. Georgia-Mae has been majestically prancing around the gymnastic mats since she was a toddler, and she’s loved every second of it – well pretty much.
“I went when I was five and I just cried, I didn’t like it. I was a very shy child, but I watched the 2008 Olympics and fell in love with the sport. I wanted to be just like them.”
By chance, or fate, Georgia-Mae received a leaflet from school about a gymnastics club, and under the condition not to cry, the promising gymnast was able to jump-start her career the very next day. She has stuck with it ever since.
“I remember I was always doing cartwheels, somersaults, walking across our banister at home, just going crazy really.”
Having just turned 21, Georgia-Mae has already accomplished so much in artistic gymnastics. From making Team GB when she was eleven, to having an original move named after her in the Code of Points.
“The move itself is a release and catch skill on the bars. Instead of catching them normally, I catch them with my hands crossed over, the entry into the skill is original as well.”
The skill [Derwael-Fenton] is shared with another gymnast from Belgium, the 2020 Olympic uneven bars champion, Nina Derwael.
To be forever immortalised in the gymnastics books is by no means a small feat, however, Georgia-Mae’s biggest achievement to date is definitely clinching gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
“It was my first major medal, I just wanted to go out there and do a good competition. I did my best routine, and I managed to come out on top.
Moments before her career-defining performance, Georgia-Mae recalls murmuring to herself: “I’m going do this, I’m not going to make a mistake, I want to win gold.
“There have been times where I knew I was going to do well, and other times where there’s been a bit of doubt, and I ended up not performing to my potential. But everything’s a challenge, and I like a challenge.”
Positivity is merely part of Georgia-Mae’s mental preparation. In fact, visualisation plays a pivotal role in her path to victory. The young gymnast is able to accurately picture each step, each hand gesture, each transition of her routine, weeks before she even steps foot in the arena.
“I love to visualise, it always helps calm my nerves and stay in the moment. I don’t worry about any outside things or what can go wrong. I just focus on me and my routine.”
Most athletes tend to have their own ritual before they compete. Some may have a vigorous warm up routine, others will have a checklist of positive affirmations to complete, it just depends on the individual and what works for them.
“I have a calm spray that I’ll use before beam, because I get really nervous for beam. My lavender spray always calms me down before I go out and perform.”
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Well, if that’s true, Georgia-Mae should be able to bench press the entire GB Olympic squad by this point.
Suffering from a plethora of injuries, the gymnast extraordinaire has had to deal with adversity resulting in months – and sometimes years of rehabilitation. But like with everything else life throws at her, Georgia-Mae is able to take it in her stride, and become stronger mentally and physically on the other side of it.
“My hamstring nearly came off the bone, I’ve had all sorts of growing pains, I once crushed my heel bone.
‘Gymnastics is a dangerous sport, it’s not if you get injured, but when. That’s just part of it, you just have to learn and recover from it.”
Setbacks haven’t just come by way of injuries for Georgia-Mae, being the reserve for the GB Team in Tokyo 2020 was definitely an unexpected and devastating blow.
“It was pretty tough, but I’ve had a pretty tough career, so for me it was just another obstacle I had to tackle.
“I didn’t want to be the reserve, I didn’t think I could do it, but I’m so glad I did, because I’ve learned so much about myself as a person, and I’ve built up a lot of strength to carry me through the rest of my career.”
Georgia-Mae would return to Japan for the World Championships later in the year. Unfortunately, the event didn’t go her way, but she was able to show glimpses of what she’s capable of.
“We’ve never had a Worlds and an Olympics in the same year, so to be in competition mode for that long was pretty crazy.
“You always learn more from the mistakes and the tough times than from winning.”
The next Commonwealth Games will take place in Birmingham in 2022, but the now ‘senior’ member of the GB artistic gymnastics team, has her heart set on Paris 2024.
“My goal since I was little, was to be an Olympian. I’ve done lots of other competitions, the Olympics is the last one to tick off the list.”
So what does life after competing look like for the prolific gymnast? Will she stay involved in the sport? Or will she hang up the gymnastics grips for good?
“I’d love to coach. I’d love to work with the younger gymnasts and give them advice. I feel like I’d be good at it.”
Georgia-Mae also plans to run her own leotard company. She always designs her leotards when possible, taking inspiration from wedding dresses, prom dresses and things she sees in fashion magazines. She’ll then sketch something onto paper before bringing her vision to life.
“It’s very important how you look to the judges, and as an athlete, you want to feel good when you’re performing. All the sparkles, all the pretty colours, it all helps.”