By David Williams
Emily Thomas says she is looking forward to new opportunities after deciding to retire from top level gymnastics following a series of knee injuries.
Thomas, 20, and Wales’ leading artistic gymnast of recent years, has chosen to stop competing – dealing a blow to Wales’ hopes of medals at next year’s Commonwealth Games.
The former Great Britain squad member and all-round Welsh champion suffered a knee injury in 2019 and although she battled back to fitness, a ruptured ligament in June of this year led her eventually to decide to retire.
The most recent injury setback came after Thomas had been selected for Great Britain for the FIG World Challenge Cup event in Croatia.
Instead of competing, she is now looking forward to starting a psychology degree course at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
“Gymnastics has always been my life; It was my motivation, my passion and my first true love,” she said.
“What I have learnt is that not everything goes the way you plan for it to, but I’ve finally accepted that that’s okay.
“I thought I’d be lost without gymnastics and although these past couple of months have been difficult, they have also been extremely exciting in many ways too. One door has closed, but many more have opened.
“I’m ready to build a completely different life and I’m excited to see what the future holds for me.
“I would like to thank Welsh Gymnastics and British Gymnastics for giving me the opportunity to represent my country for many years. My journey as an elite athlete will forever be cherished.”
Thomas began her gymnastics journey aged four at her local club in Bridgend and enjoyed some magical moments along the way, under the watchful eye of national women’s artistic coach Tracey Skirton-Davies, from the age of eight at the National Centre in Cardiff.
Back in October 2016, she brought home three gold medals from the Junior Commonwealth Championships in Namibia, where she took all-around and uneven bars honours as well as enjoying team glory.
Later that same month, she would go on to triumph on uneven bars again at the Northern European Championships in Norway and finish her junior career in style.
She joined the Great Britain senior squad in 2017, the year she turned 16, and in the November she was crowned Welsh all-around champion.
Emily Thomas has announced her retirement from gymnastics, i was hoping she’d go for worlds and lead a young Commonwealth Games Wales team in 2022 but due to her recent injury that won’t be the case. I’m wishing Emily the best in the future 🤍 pic.twitter.com/M3XMEmLENU
— josephine 🐢 (@ringleaps) September 17, 2021
Bronze on uneven bars then followed at the British Championships in March 2018 while, a month later, she was competing for Team Wales on Australia’s Gold Coast at the Commonwealth Games.
It was there she made the floor final, eventually placing sixth, while she was also part of the women’s team who finished just outside the medals in 4th place.
Coach Skirton-Davies said: “Emily has been part of the Welsh Gymnastics family for many years.
“She has had amazing support from her parents Mark and Leanne and has been a credit to her wider club and community.
“It is hard to pick out highlights, but Emily winning at the Junior Commonwealth Championships in Namibia was just fantastic.