Emil Barber Wales

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Emil Barber of Wales performs his floor routine during the Men's Team Gymnastics Final and Individual Qualification at The Arena during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium on July 29, 2022, in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Team Wales Gymnast Emil Barber Announces Retirement At 23

sportswales

By Carl Field

Wales’ Commonwealth Games star Emil Barber has announced his retirement from gymnastics due to a heart condition.

The 23-year-old men’s artistic gymnast from Swansea was part of Team Wales at Birmingham 2022, where he was agonisingly close to bagging bronze in the men’s individual floor final, finishing just outside the medal places in fourth.

Barber’s impressive performances earned him an army of new fans.

He also made the men’s individual vault final and was part of the Wales men’s team alongside Brinn Bevan, Joe Cemlyn-Jones, Josh Cook and Jacob Edwards.

“The reason for my early retirement is a heart condition that requires future surgery, so to prioritise my health and well-being, it is necessary to step away from the physical demands of the sport,” he explained in a post on his Instagram account, @emil_b4rber.

“This decision hasn’t been an easy one to make as gymnastics has taught me discipline, perseverance, and the value of hard work.

“It has shown me that success is not solely defined by medals and trophies, but by the dedication and effort put into every practice and competition.

“The strength, flexibility, and mental toughness cultivated through this sport will forever be a part of who I am.”

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Former Cwmtawe Comprehensive School pupil Barber began his gymnastics journey aged nine at his local club in Swansea.

That memorable journey would eventually take him to the Commonwealth Games; his selection for the team two years ago came having been a travelling reserve to the Gold Coast four years earlier.

Barber, a former Welsh champion on floor and vault, was also part of the Wales men’s team that won Northern European team gold in 2021 and team silver in 2019. He also secured Northern European individual vault gold in 2019.

“As I gracefully bid farewell to the world of gymnastics, I am filled with a mixture of emotions,” he continued.

“This sport has been my passion, my identity, and my way of life for as long as I can remember.

“The countless hours spent in the gym, the exhilaration of nailing a routine, and the camaraderie with my fellow gymnasts have shaped me into the person I am today.

“To my coaches, thank you for pushing me beyond my limits and believing in my potential. “Your guidance and expertise have played a huge part in my growth as a gymnast. Your unwavering support and belief in my abilities have fueled my determination to achieve greatness.

“To my teammates, you have become my second family. The bond we have forged through blood, sweat, and tears is unbreakable.

“The memories we have created, the highs and lows we have shared, and the countless moments of laughter and camaraderie will forever hold a special place in my heart.

“To my family and friends, thank you for your unwavering support and understanding. Your love and encouragement have been my rock throughout this journey. Your presence in the stands, cheering me on, has given me the strength to push through the toughest of times.

“As I retire from gymnastics, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities this sport has provided me. It has given me a platform to showcase my skills, to inspire others, and to be a part of something greater than myself. The lessons I have learned through gymnastics will continue to guide me in all aspects of life.

“Thank you, gymnastics, for the incredible journey.”

MAG senior medalists Theo-Amari Ochani, left, Benji Eyre, centre, and Emil Barber, right on the podium after the MAG all-around competition. Pic: Welsh Gymnastics[/caption]

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