South Essex star Hayden Skinner fights back from serious injury to lay claim for 2020 Tokyo Olympics spot

HAYDEN SKINNER has fought back from a career-threatening injury to make a bid to become South Essex Gymnastic Club’s latest Olympian after a stunning set of results this winter.

After impressing on debut for the British team at an event in Cardiff then finishing fourth at a World Cup event in Paris, the 18-year-old was selected for the first in a series of four FIG World Cup competitions, which took place in Cottbus, Germany, between November 23-24.

The series allows gymnasts to earn points towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and Hayden got off to a flyer with a floor bronze, while his international and club-mate Brinn Bevan, 22, who competed at Rio 2016 Olympics, made the parallel bar final.

Hayden (pictured above on the left), who has one of the highest start scores in the world on floor and incorporates spectacular twisting into his routines, scored 14.533 to finish behind Spain’s Rayderley Zapata (14.800) and Japan’s Kazuki Minami (15.100).

Scott Hann, Director of Coaching at SEGC, said: “Hayden has gone out and got a medal and it has put him in a really strong position to put his bid in for his own Olympic spot.

“He had a nasty injury on his elbow which nearly forced him to retire so we made a decision to stop doing some of the apparatus, so he only really trains four apparatus.

“His focus is on floor and vault, along with high bar and pommel, so if he was to be selected for another team he could do those pieces if he had to.

“The injury did demotivate him for a while but we set him a target to try and show he is up there with the best in the world – and he has gone and done it by delivering three times in a row.

“And now he has got himself a medal and a possible opportunity to go and put his bid down for Olympic qualification.”

The remaining three Apparatus World Cup series competitions are in Melbourne (February 21-24), Baku (March 14-17), and Doha (March 20-23).