One of Wales’ leading gymnasts, Joe Cemlyn-Jones has recently returned to competition in Germany. But when he’s not been hitting the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar, Cemlyn-Jones is busy exercising his entrepreneurial muscle as he told Steffan Thomas.
Joe Cemlyn-Jones is one of Wales’ most gifted athletes but now the gymnast is confident he has the building blocks in place to one day step up to the Olympic Games.
While being a professional sportsman of Cemlyn-Jones’ standard requires countless hours of training, the gym isn’t the only place the 21-year-old spends his time.
In between competing at major events and training, the Bristol-born gymnast – who represents Wales thanks to his Welsh grandfather – runs an e-bay shop which sells Lego.
And his distribution of one of the world’s most famous toys is so successful it has become currently more lucrative than being a professional athlete.
Proof, if needed, of the benefits of resourcefulness in these Covid-afflicted times.
“I’m an entrepreneur as well as a professional athlete so I buy and sell Lego on e-bay,” says Cemlyn-Jones, a Wales Commonwealth Games hopeful for Birmingham 2022.
“I have a shop on e-bay called jcj-bricks. I’m an e-bay top rated seller and a lot of my listings are top of the search results.
Another fantastic day at the Northern Europeans for team 🏴
Brinn Bevan – 🥇pommel
Josh Cook – 🥇rings 🥉pbars
Joe Cemlyn-Jones – 🥉pommel 🥉rings 🥇pbars 🥇high bar
Emil Barber – 🥇vault pic.twitter.com/N8jPI9jJrf
— Welsh Gymnastics (@WelshGymnastics) September 22, 2019
“I buy in bulk. Last week, I spent £400 on 50 kilograms of used Lego bricks.
“I bring it in, I clean it, I wash it, and I sell them on separately. I earn more from e-bay than I do from gymnastics.
“As much as I love competing and training it’s nice to have something else to fall back on and to do in my spare time.”
So, when he is not perfecting his Iron Cross on the rings, Cemlyn-Jones can be found polishing up an old Princess Leia Lego figure, complete with high pigtails and blaster gun.
And that’s not all.
“I’m also an ambassador with a Turmeric company who provide me with products like turmeric and vitamin D which give that little one per cent extra to be successful.”
Cemlyn-Jones, who is a member of the Falcons Academy in Barnstaple, was always destined for high achievement having represented Great Britain since the age of 11.
The Welsh squad member has been successful at the London Open, UK School Games, English championships, German Bundesliga and the World Cup.
But achieving such success and getting to the required physical level takes enormous sacrifices and hard work – especially when competing against some of the strongest athletes on the planet.
“It was the longest process of my life getting to the level of being a professional gymnast,” he says.
“You come in one day and you will feel so strong and you’ll be able to do everything. But you’ll come in the next day and you won’t be able to do it.
“The key is persistence. You’ve just got to keep going because if you feel good every day and you aren’t doing much you aren’t going to progress.
“I train Monday to Saturday. I typically do a double session every day with Wednesday being half a day. I do a weights gym on Wednesday and a weights gym on Saturday.
“I do three hours in the morning, have a break and then I do two hours in the afternoon – focusing on repairs or anything which went wrong in the morning.
“In the build up to competitions I will try to do all six apparatus in the first session and then in the second sessions we don’t do too much.
“There’s some big sacrifices along the way and you don’t have much of a social life because of the commitment you need to get to this level.”
Cemlyn-Jones is an extremely driven individual who hasn’t even come close to scratching the surface of his potential yet.
His dream is to compete and succeed at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 – following in the footsteps of fellow Wales international Brinn Bevan and Cemlyn-Jones’ own hero, Great Britain star Dan Purvis.
“My long term goals are the Olympics and to get a team medal for Wales in the Commonwealth Games.
“I believe these goals will be achievable but it’ll take a lot of hard work. The level of gymnastics now is crazy.
“With social media you see the Russian and Japanese athletes posting videos of gymnasts doing these crazy skills and we’re just trying to lift our level to compete against that. It’s like a ladder and the skills are getting crazy.
— JC Jones (@JCJonesmusic) April 2, 2014
“When you do well in a competition, or even win it, there’s no better feeling. It can’t be replicated anywhere else because of all the hard work you’ve put in to get there.
“This is what we train for so you’ve got to enjoy those moments. Everyone respects everyone because of how difficult our sport is.
“We’ll be in direct competition with someone and they’ll do something amazing and you’d think ‘wow that was actually sick.’
“But I’m working as hard as I can do to be successful and I’m inspired by my teammates for both Wales and Great Britain as we constantly push each other to get better every day.”