Luke makes history - and is ready for more

COMMONWEALTH champion Luke Folwell hailed the highlight of his career as he returned to Huntingdon with FIVE Commonwealth medals.

COMMONWEALTH champion Luke Folwell hailed the highlight of his career as he returned to Huntingdon with FIVE Commonwealth medals.

Luke’s Delhi success saw him become the most decorated English gymnast in Commonwealth Games history, as he collected stunning gold medals in the all-around competition and the vault, and silvers in the team event, rings and parallel bars.

And having proven himself on the world stage, the 23-year-old has London 2012 firmly in his sights.

He and his fellow Huntingdon gymnasts and coach Paul Hall received a heroes’ welcome when they landed back in the UK on Saturday.

“This is the highest point of my career in gymnastics,” Luke told The Hunts Post. “All that hard work and those years of training have been worth it.

“Now I feel that with this confidence I have from the Commonwealth Games I can kick on. I want to make sure I am at London 2012 – that’s the next target.”

Most Read

Luke opened his campaign with a silver medal in the all-around team event, where Australia narrowly pipped the England team to the gold medal. He followed that up with individual all-around gold on Wednesday, holding his nerve on the final apparatus rotation after silver medallist Reiss Beckford had put him under pressure.

Stepping up to deliver his final routine, it was the thought of his home club that helped Luke to keep his focus.

“I just pictured myself at Huntingdon Olympic Gym Club with no-one watching,” he said. “All I had to do was perform my training routine, do it cleanly and present to Paul. And it worked.”

The confidence and momentum from that gold medal carried him through three more events.

“I felt like I couldn’t fail a routine, I was that confident. The team medal was the main aim, and after that I knew I could push on.”

Luke just missed out on a vault medal four years ago in Melbourne, and had never before won a title at the top level, but made up for lost time in style in Delhi.

Mr Hall, Luke’s coach for 16 years, said the performances of the week had been even better than he had hoped.

“It was the most focused I have seen Luke. In the past he has sometimes struggled with nerves, but he saw his chance and he seized it.

“He didn’t put a foot wrong all week. It was the culmination of 18 years of hard work for Luke.”

Mr Hall takes a squad of Great Britain gymnasts, including HGC’s Louis Smith, to Rotterdam this week for the World Championships. A strong performance in Rotterdam and the 2011 competition in Tokyo could boost the number of Olympic places available to the team.

“There are a group of around 12 gymnasts competing for up to five Olympic places, and Luke is very definitely in with a chance. He’ll be in the mix.”

Luke was part of a six-strong HGC contingent in Delhi, including Northern Ireland’s Charlotte McKenna and Luke Carson, Alex Hedges of the Isle of Man, Tori Simpson and Emma White for Scotland, while England’s Marissa King missed out through injury.

“All our representatives did the club proud, and showed we are not one-trick ponies. We have strength in depth, and we continue to prove that Huntingdon is one of the top gym clubs in the country,” added Mr Hall.