PARIS: Naana Oppon, the newly crowned British tumbling champion at the age of sixteen, heads to the Trampolining international Championships this week confident of triumphing a medal and encouraging extra “black or girls of color” to take up the sport.
The engaging Oppon says she “loves seeing the world the wrong way up” as she jumps and twists down the 25-metre (82-foot) music with most effective her fingers and ft allowed to the touch the floor.
“As much as you need to live targeted there may be additionally a feel of freedom and it’s miles incredible a laugh,” she informed AFP in a Zoom interview.
“It comes with a lot of abilties. it’s miles a totally power-primarily based game and that was what drew me in.”
Oppon says she turned into a “very energetic woman” and aged 4 took up tumbling, a trampoline gymnastics field that falls beneath the aegis of the worldwide Gymnastics Federation.
Her progress has been so swift that she has been described by means of coaches as the sport’s Usain Bolt and compared to American gymnastics celeb Biles.
now not extraordinarily she identifies strongly with the american four-time Olympic gold medallist and says she “surely” hopes she may be as inspirational as Biles.
“in the gymnasium, humans doing tumbling mainly do no longer appear like me, either black or people of shade. The way Biles carries herself has been a large concept,” Oppon said.
“I think i have already without a doubt inspired the black community and those of shade to strive tumbling out.
“each person can be a part of.”
Oppon accepts she should encourage even extra to take it up if she have been to win a medal at the arena championships which take location in the English metropolis of Birmingham from Thursday to Sunday.
“I do truely assume it is realistic to win a medal in the group or man or woman,” she stated.
“it’d imply loads to win a medal because it way all of the difficult paintings and sacrifices made through me and my family were worthwhile.”
Cirque du Soleil dream
For Oppon to fulfil her dream, she has had to lead a existence some distance from that of a everyday teenager. “i’ve made pretty some sacrifices, particularly my social life and striking out with buddies,” she stated.
“i’ve additionally been a little in the back of with schoolwork due to the fact i have been training in two gyms for the past yr and a 1/2.
“however, it balances out in the long run, I bet.”
Her parents, mom Antonia and father Paul, have additionally sacrificed a lot by using, at one factor, taking jobs every to finance expenses that amount to roughly seven-hundred pounds ($850) a month — as tumbling does now not acquire the investment from the lottery that Olympic sports activities do.
but, supermarket worker Antonia gave up one in all her jobs so she should power Oppon to one of the gyms this is quite a distance from their home. Paul still works jobs and Oppon says her sister is also supportive of her pursuit of her aim.
The British title in September therefore made her proud that she had repaid their time and efforts. “i am very, very proud of myself as it become no longer really what I expected to do,” she stated.
“i used to be absolutely just hoping to do my quality however I did even higher than that and got here out on pinnacle. “It was a totally nice outcome.”
as it turns out she became not up to now at the back of in her schoolwork and despite being “very, very nervous” about her GCSE assessments she were given “superb” consequences.
Oppon says whilst she is targeted on her sport — the worlds are the top for her subject because it isn’t always part of the trampolining class on the Olympics — she also has a watch on what’s to come after faculty.
similarly down the line she envisages “studying sign language” and both being a sports physiotherapist or a sports psychologist — however earlier than then a year on the circus appeals, but no everyday one. “I would really like to take a year off after faculty and join Cirque du Soleil,” she said. “it’d be a truely outstanding experience to be part of that. “after all tumbling is quite part of it.”