Olympic gymnast Jenni Pinches was given a right royal send-off from family and friends at the Cock Inn in Whaley Bridge before realising her lifetime’s ambition.
Jenni has one more week in training camp at the national centre of excellence at Lilleshall, before decamping to the Olympic Village.
“This is my dream come true,” she said. “I have represented Great Britain in the European and the World Championships and now it is the Olympics. This is the big one.”
Jenni was told she had been selected for the GB team in a nerve- wracking phone call after the British Championships, but had to wait ten days and ratification by the British Olympic Association before she could make the information public.
Now she is looking forward to the worldwide audience: “I do get nervous, but you have to channel that tension and use the adrenalin to improve your performance. I appreciate that this is an opportunity to showcase my talents and I will see if any opportunities come my way after the Games to do the things I love such as the media or television.”
On the team’s chances, she said: “Our aim is to try to improve on the fifth spot the GB team got at the World Championships in Tokyo, that was our best ever position. USA, China, Russia and Romania will be fighting for the medal positions and hot on our heels will be the Italians, Australians and the French.”
First spotted at the age of six and in the national squad by the age of nine, Jenni has been increasing her training regime ever since, combining her physical development with an outstanding academic career at the King’s School in Macclesfield.
A brilliant A star GCSE academic, Jenni has put in 35 hours per week at the Liverpool training base of Britain’s most famous gymnast Beth Tweddle over the last five years and will complete her final year at King’s after the Olympics next year.
King’s School Headmaster Dr Simon Hyde said: “Like everyone in her home town and beyond, pupils and teachers alike at the King’s School are all proud of Jenni and it is going to be an honour and pleasure to have one of our own at the Olympics.”
The current British champion and national gold medallist on the beam, Jenni has been training since her innate talent was first spotted at the age of six.
Proud parents Ian and Jane Pinches added: “We remember going to one of her first national competitions and being incredibly surprised but delighted that Jenni was among the top young gymnasts in the country. When it’s your own child you simply do not realise that they simply could be that good.”