By Ben Baker in Sydney
LEWISHAM gymnast Courtney Tulloch might have returned from the Australian Youth Olympic Festival with two gold medals to declare but he still thought his trip Down Under could have gone better.
The 17-year-old had already helped Great Britain claim team gold before returning to the State Sports Centre in Sydney’s Olympic Park on the final day for the individual events.
However, a back injury sustained in pipping China to team gold clearly hampered Tulloch from start to finish as he struggled to sixth place in the all-around competition.
All was not lost for the Lewisham teenager in Australia, though, as he was still able to bring home another gold medal after topping the scoreboard on the rings.
But despite picking up two gold medals Down Under, Tulloch, who is the European junior champion on the rings, was still left with the feeling of what if.
He said: “I hurt my back a little bit in the team competition and I thought I would be able to struggle through in the individual but it just didn’t happen.
“I am happy to get gold on the rings but when I came here I was hoping to get a medal in the all-around and I was really looking forward to it but it wasn’t to be.
“But when I get back I will sort my back out and come back fighting to put this behind me.
“This is just the start for me and although I hoped it would go better I have to forget about it and move on.
“My aim is the Rio Olympics in 2016 and if I can get it right there and win the medal there then that would be more than make up for this disappointment so I just have to keep working.”
Meanwhile, Abbey Wood weightlifter Zoe Smith, who competed at the London 2012 Olympics, claimed silver in the 63kg category as China’s Wei Deng took gold.
And while she didn’t sit on top the podium, Smith believes her trip Down Under has put her in good stead for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
“The Australian Youth Olympic Festival wasn’t the best performance of my life, granted,” said Smith, who finished with a score of 200, 35 shy of Deng.
“I obviously haven’t been training as hard as I had been for the Olympics for this one, but I think I got out what I put in, so I am not unhappy.
“I am pretty sure the Chinese girl’s total would have medalled in the 63kg category at the Olympics so I am not too disappointed losing out to her.
“I imagine the standard might be a tiny bit higher than this at the Commonwealth’s next year so this is great practice.
“I basically need to get as many competitions in now as I possibly can without tiring myself out just to get myself back into the swing of competing.
“It’s been about six months since the Olympics now so I am due some competitions.”
Elsehere, 12-year-old Catherine Lyons, who trains at the Europa Centre in Crayford, was also among the medal winners in Sydney forming part of the British artistic gymnastics team with Teal Grindle, Tyesha Mattis and Amy Tinkler which won silver.
She then competed individually but couldn’t add to her medal tally finishing fourth on the beam and floor, 19th on the uneven bars and ninth in the vault for ninth in the all-around rankings.
The British Olympic Association prepares and leads British athletes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games.
It works in partnership with sport National Governing Bodies to enhance Olympic success and is responsible for championing the Olympic values.
For more information, visit olympics.org.uk
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