Sudbury Gymnastic Club’s Crystal Watts is crowned Thailand National Champion
A young Suffolk gymnast has her eye on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 after overcoming a career-threatening injury to claim a national title in Thailand.
Crystal Watts, 14, from Sudbury Gymnastics Club, travelled to Asia as Suffolk County Champion to compete against 70 other gymnasts hoping to perhaps contend for a medal.
But she performed beyond expectations, claiming the top overall score and being crowned Thailand National Junior Champion – making her Sudbury’s first-ever national champion.
She also qualified for all four apparatus finals, winning the vault and uneven bars national titles as well.
By day four of the competition St Joseph’s College pupil Crystal, who qualifies to compete for Thailand through family, was visibly tired which inevitably led to mistakes on the last two pieces – beam and floor.
But even with these mistakes she still managed a silver medal on the floor. She was also added to a team for their national team competition and she helped that team take second place, which meant another silver medal.
So overall, she won the national junior title, plus two more golds and a pair of silvers – five medals out of a possible six she could have claimed.
What makes Crystal’s success even more remarkable is that just 12 months ago the youngster was diagnosed with a bulging disc in her back, which could have ended her career before it really got going.
Yet she battled back with treatment and could now be on the verge of the Olympics – as a result of her success she has been asked to compete for Thailand in next year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, and the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
If she excels again, then she could well find herself on the plane to Japan to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, an astonishing turn of fortunes.
Andy Wood, her coach, said: “The bulging disc in her back threatened to finish her career, but with specialist help from her physiotherapist, Paul Berry, she has fought hard and battled back to fitness, bringing her to this point in her career.
“It’s a dream come true for her – she went hoping for medals but is now being considered for the 2020 Olympics.”