SAM Oldham, bronze-medal winner in team competition at the 2012 London Olympics, failed to represent Great Britain at last year’s Rio Games, but is keen to have one more shot at the ultimate glory at Tokyo in 2020.
Oldham suffered an ankle ligament damage at the Commonwealth Games in July, 2014, but returned to competition nine months later. He came third overall in all-around and won floor exercise in the final trials for the Rio Games, but could not make it to the squad.
At their recent training camp in Doha, the 23-year-old exuded confidence of competing in the Tokyo Olympics.
The three-time junior European champion spoke to Doha Stadium Plus also about his future goals and Great Britain’s emergence as one of the best teams in the world in recent years.
How important was the Doha camp?
The winter camp in Doha was very important. The squad consisted of 10 gymnasts, 11 coaches and a few administrators. The team trained hard, keeping in mind future tournaments, particularly the World Championships in Montreal, Canada, in October. It was quite a serious camp where everybody was trying to get ahead of each other. Our main focus is to win medals at the Olympics. We supported each other and I think we can keep doing well at international competitions.
How tough was dealing with your ligament injury?
I’ve spent two years in the recovery programme. I’m fit now. The ankle is in good shape as it’s fully stable and strong, but I also want to ensure I don’t get injured again.
What’re your goals for this year?
I want to reinvent myself. The injury I picked up two years ago was career-threatening and it took a long time to regain full fitness. It was a two-year process. I want to get back to the team for the European Championships in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in April. But the main focus will be on the World Championships in October. I’ve won medals at European Championships and Olympics, but not at Worlds. That’ll be a massive challenge for me.
I also want to improve my techniques in all-around events, especially in high bar. I’m trying to push the level a bit high by trying something new.
These’re exciting times for British gymnastics...
We won a bronze in London while our individual success was very high at last year’s Olympics, where the men’s team won five medals. We beat China, USA, Russia and Japan in individual events. Our main target now is a team gold at the Tokyo Games. We’re training hard to achieve it.
Tell us about your experience in Qatar…
I tried to understand the Arab culture and the city. We also went for a desert safari and rode camels. That was also real fun. It was a great experience to go through the paces at the Qatar Gymnastics Federation’s training centre at Al Luqta. The facilities were simply good. We also took a tour of the ASPIRE Academy and found it excellent.