Image Credit: British Gymnastics
You know an athlete is a special talent when they are winning World Championship medals in their teenage years.
Great Britain trampolinist Izzy Songhurst is one of those, having helped her country to a team bronze at the 2017 Trampoline, Tumbling & DMT World Championships aged just 18.
The pressure on her was huge. Not only was it her first ever major event at senior level, she knew there was no place for mistakes if GB wanted to medal as the team featured only three members (nations nearly always field four athletes, with only the three best scores being taken).
And she was up first in the final.
Recalling that day, she said: “I think it was a smart move for me to go first in the final because I felt really nervous, more nervous than I did in the qualification.
“I felt a lot of pressure because not only did I need to get through the routine, I needed to do a good routine. That was a new type of pressure for me because in the individual event it’s only on you, whereas in a team final you’ve also got the pressure of not letting other people or your country down.
“The main thing I remember was feeling relief and being pretty satisfied with the routine I’d done as it was similar to the one I’d done in qualification. I was optimistic after the routine, even before seeing Laura’s or Kat’s, that we had a chance to get a medal.”
— British Gymnastics (@BritGymnastics) November 10, 2017
While this was a new scenario for Songhurst at senior level, she had competed in plenty of finals at age group level.
She had competed very well too, securing the junior British, European and World titles within just a few months of each other in 2014, signalling to the world that she was someone with a very bright future in the sport.
However, in spite of this and her immediate medal success at senior level, the Dorset-born athlete admitted she found the initial transition into the women’s team difficult.
“I’ve learned a lot more about competing compared to all those years I had in my junior career because it’s just such a different atmosphere,” she said.
“At the start I was really worried about not being good enough. There was a time where I didn’t believe I could make it there because I was starting at the bottom again and I was wondering if I was going to ever make it to that level.
“At the end of my junior career it got to a point where I was consistently finishing in the top eight and I was struggling to motivate myself because I knew on an average day I could still get a European or World medal or could still be the best in Britain for my age group. I felt that I was getting a bit stagnant.
“But when I transitioned into being a senior, I realised I needed to be on my top form if I was going to make the top 20 in the world. That’s been really good for me because I know if I’m feeling a bit unmotivated that can switch me on.
“You know that you need to be working your hardest no matter what because if you achieve what you want to achieve that’s how you’re going to do it.”
Ahead of the 2019 Trampoline, Tumbling & DMT British Championships this weekend, we caught up with trampoline star @IzzySonghurst. She talks us through two of her ultimate trampoline skills 👌👏
Take a look 👇🙃👀 https://t.co/SUHY0o8sa6
— British Gymnastics (@BritGymnastics) September 24, 2019
It’s not all been plaining sailing for Songhurst.
Just one day before the start of the 2018 European Championships, Songhurst suffered a dislocated ankle during training and underwent immediate surgery in Baku.
Such a serious injury can not only have a serious impact on the career of an athlete, but their day-to-day life too.
However, having now recovered fully, Songhurst believes that the incident has actually helped her become a better athlete.
“The philosophy I live by now is that everything happens for a reason and looking back I definitely believe that it was a blessing in disguise and that I have learned a lot from it as an athlete and also as a person,” the 20-year-old reflected.
“It was a really good test of my patience because it got to a point where I didn’t think I was going to be able to get back on a trampoline, I didn’t know if I could wait any longer to get back on a trampoline. I didn’t know if I wanted to go through that whole process.
“I also learned how I react to trauma and mental health issues and how I was able to get myself out of the whole I was in and come out of the other side a better person or a stronger athlete.
“It was the first major injury I’d had in my life. It was very unexpected and I felt very lost at the start but had a great team of people behind me and I don’t think I would be where I am today without them so I’m very thankful.”
Perseverance! @IzzySonghurst returned to international competition today @Minsk2019BY after more than a year 👍🇬🇧 It may not be the routines demonstrated in training but is certainly a massive step in the right direction💪 #welldone #TeamGB pic.twitter.com/yJzJ36PnT5
— TracyWhittaker (@tracywhittaker1) June 24, 2019
Songhurst will now be looking to help Great Britain secure an Olympic berth at the 2019 Trampoline, Tumbling & DMT World Championships alongside Bryony Page, Driscoll & Gallagher this week. You can follow the event on the BBC Sport website and BBC Red Button.