Danusia Francis: I want to fulfil my Olympic dream
British gymnast Danusia Francis aims to fulfil a childhood dream by competing in the London Olympics.
Speaking exclusively to MSN Sport at Surrey Sports Park, the 17-year-old explained: "As a gymnast, you might only get a chance to compete in the Olympics once and it's always been a dream of mine. I was nine years old when I moved away from home to pursue that dream. It's such a big deal".
Anthony Devlin-PA Wire
London 2012 will be the first Games at which Danusia will be old enough to compete but she has already enjoyed success at senior level.
In 2010, she became English all-round champion and has three gold medals (two on beam, one on floor) at the British Championships. At the World Championships in 2011, she was part of the British women's team that reached the final and secured qualification for London 2012.
Danusia is aiming high at London 2012 and, while her primary focus is success in the team event, her ambitions also extend to her individual performance. "The team goals are to finish in the top eight [in qualification] and get into the team final", she reveals. "For me personally, if I was to make the [individual] finals in the all-around event or the beam, that would be amazing".
Like many British Olympians, the road to the Games has not been easy for Danusia. She has faced challenges posed by injuries, training and balancing her sporting life with her education.
"I've had to overcome a lot of injuries which has been tough", says Francis. "You think about all your rivals who are trying to get onto the team who are training while you are resting your injury. Being able to motivate yourself every day in the gym to push through those routines [is challenging].
AP Photo-Bullit Marquez
"I'm also doing two A-levels at the moment", she continues. "One is drama. Being able to rehearse with my drama group [around training] has been really tough. Not going out near to competitions is really hard too!"
Danusia is confident that gymnastics will captivate spectators at London 2012. "It's an exciting sport, you never know what is going to happen", she states. "You might see injuries or falls here and there. Gymnastics [showcases] strength, flexibility and the ability to dance. I think the sport will be enjoyed by everyone".
While the Olympics represent the culmination of a career for some athletes, Danusia's sporting journey will continue after the Games when she moves to California to join the UCLA Bruins' gymnastics team. "I am so excited. I went to LA for a visit and felt like I was meant to go there my whole life. It was so good, just like you see in the movies".
Danusia Francis spoke to MSN Sport exclusively at Surrey Sports Park. Danusia is a National Lottery-sponsored British athlete.