|Kristian Thomas (Great Britain)
Aiming for a place in the all-around finals at the 2009 World Championships in London, recently crowned British champion Kristian Thomas told IG his success is "just a matter of continuous hard work."
After a few years of gaining experience and solid international results, Thomas is coming into his own for Great Britain. He won the senior all-around title at the 2008 British Men's Championships, held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Goresbrook, England. Thomas is now preparing for major international competitions that will take place in London during the rest of this Olympic cycle: the 2009 World Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games.
Born Feb. 14, 1989, in Wolverhampton, England, Thomas trains under coach Michelle Bradley at Earls Gymnastics Club. He represented England at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, where he won a team bronze medal and placed 12th all-around.
Thomas's best results on the World Cup circuit include second place on floor exercise at the 2008 DTB Cup in Stuttgart; third on floor exercise at the 2007 Glasgow Grand Prix; fourth on floor exercise at the 2008 Joachim Blume Memorial in Spain; fourth on high bar at the 2008 Glasgow Grand Prix; seventh on floor exercise and vault at the 2007 DTB Cup in Stuttgart; and eighth on floor exercise at the 2008 Glasgow Grand Prix. He placed eighth on floor exercise at the 2008 European Championships in Lausanne.
Although Great Britain qualified only two male gymnasts for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in August, Thomas says his team's momentum is building towards the 2009 Worlds and the London 2012 Olympics. Great Britain won the team gold medal at the 2008 Junior Europeans, and several of the juniors are expected to compete with - and against - Thomas in the coming years.
Thomas gave IG Online his thoughts on the confidence he has gained since winning the British title, and how he hopes to help lead his team to optimal international results.
Kristian Thomas (Great Britain)
IG: What do you think enabled you to break through and win your first British title?
KT: I think it was a bit of a combination of staying injury-free and having a good competition training plan prior to the championships. Also, at the competition, I was able to be consistent and go cleanly on all apparatus.
IG: At the British Championships, Olympians Daniel Keatings and Louis Smith did not perform on all six events. How do you think you rate against them in the all-around at this point?
KT: I feel that I am definitely in a position now to be competing and challenging amongst them, which will only make the British team stronger.
IG: It seems normal for female gymnasts to have male coaches, but very unique for a male gymnast to have a female coach, as you do. What are the dynamics of your relationship?
KT: I feel that we have a very good and solid relationship in the gym and both know what aims we want, so we are able to push each other on and strive to bigger and better things. I am also trained by (three-time Worlds competitor) Ryan Bradley at Earls Gymnastics Club where I train most of the week, and also by Andrei Popov, who is the men's national coach, twice a week.
IG: Great Britain's juniors have risen to the top of Europe, and are moving to the senior ranks. How much pressure do you feel from them, heading into 2009 and eventually 2012?
KT: There is definitely a lot of talent in the juniors at the minute, which can only bode well for British gymnastics, but as long as the juniors keep coming through and the seniors continue improving, it can only benefit the squad in making it stronger.
Thomas is flanked by coaches Ryan Bradley and Michelle Bradley
IG: Where do you think the British team — which should include Daniel and Louis — can fare at the 2009 Worlds in London?
KT: As the 2009 World Championships are individual only, I would like to think that Britain will have finalists in the all-around and individual apparatus finals. These goals are definitely achievable.
IG: After placing 57th all-around in qualifications at the 2007 Worlds, what are your expectations for the 2009 worlds?
KT: Obviously, first of all, I need to make sure that I continue working hard to make the British team. Then, I would like to think a top-24 placing in the all-around is possible.
IG: You have earned most of your best World Cup rankings on floor and vault. What makes these two events strong for you?
KT: I think being a bit taller than most gymnasts has helped me to generate power to use at my advantage on these apparatus. I also enjoy training floor and vault, which can help.
IG: What have you been doing to improve the other four events, so you could win the British all-around championships?
KT: I have always kept up all six apparatus in order to compete in the all-around so it has just been a matter of continuous hard work.
IG: Heading toward 2012, your team could be loaded with specialists and all-arounders. What do you think you will need to do, to earn and keep your spot on the team as an all-arounder?
KT: I think that I need to continue improving my skills on all six apparatus, and making sure my routines are solid and consistent by the time the trials come for 2012.