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20th Jun, 2021

Coventry twins brace themselves for Tokyo

SIMONE BILES’ aura will be enough to have even Team GB’s most precocious Tokyo double act Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova pinching themselves.

But the Coventry-raised gymnastics duo admit they’re relishing the prospect of going head-to-head with the four-time Olympic champion this summer.

The Gadirova twins, 16, were on Monday officially selected in a youthful women’s artistic gymnastics team set to descend on the Games alongside Alice Kinsella, 20, and 18-year-old Amelie Morgan.

Jessica soared to European Championship glory on the floor last month while Jennifer, who missed that event through injury, has also emerged as one of Team GB’s hottest prospects.

They’ll be duelling it out with the record-breaking Biles, 24, at the Games and admit the sheer sight of the 19-time world champion will have them in a state of gymnastics hysteria.

Jessica, who went to school in Coventry with her sister before moving to Buckinghamshire, said: “She’s won everything and is the biggest name you will ever know in gymnastics.

“Just seeing her there would be so shocking. We’ll both be like: ‘oh my god, we’ve seen you on the TV’.

“We’re just going to be like statues and silently whispering to each other. We’ll be so shocked.”

Jennifer, who propelled herself into Olympic contention with a searing international debut at last year’s American Cup, added: “She’s incredible.

“I’m fully fit now and slowly trying to get as strong as I can.”

The Gadirovas’ rise to the Tokyo summit has been nothing short of sensational.

Their Team GB selection came after the high-profile omission of Becky Downie, the 2019 World Championship silver medallist on the bars who has recently spoken out about the prevalence of abuse in gymnastics.

Team officials insist the decision had nothing to do with Downie’s comments and the Gadirovas, born in Dublin before moving to the UK, were thrilled to take full advantage.

Jessica hit the international headlines in Basel last month as that brilliant gold on the floor was bolstered by silver and bronze medals in the vault and all-around events.

Both sisters revelled in their Team GB selection and say making their Games debut at such a young age caps a true gymnastics fairytale.

“We were so shocked,” added Jessica, whose exploits in Tokyo will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

“I received my news first and it was so exciting for me, but I was nervous for Jennifer to get her news.

“But when she had hers, we were all in tears – just overwhelmed and so excited.”

Jennifer added: “We were thrilled for each other. I heard her news and was so happy but didn’t want to get my hopes up. Would I get in?

“But as soon as we heard the phone call it was just like: we’ve done it together.’”

Watch every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+


By Will Jennings, Sportsbeat

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