Shotton gymnast makes a stunning return from injury


David Humphreys

A YOUNG gymnast has qualified for national finals less than two years after fearing she would never compete again following a horrendous injury.

Rachel Cooper, 16, will take part in the British tumbling championships in July, 20 months after badly breaking her arm in training at Lilleshall in September, 2012.

She stumbled and fell completely snapping the tibia and fibia bones in her arm.

Rachel, of Gladstone Street, Shotton, said: “I thought I’d never compete again.

“I’d reached a really good point in my training when I broke my arm so I was really disappointed.

“I really did fear the worst.”

Rachel’s recovery began in October 2013 when she had two metal plates removed from her arm.

Doctors treating the John Summers High School student advised her to take it easy but tenacious Rachel was back in the gym at Deeside Leisure Centre in Queensferry by January of this year, well ahead of schedule.

Within a month of her return, she’d clinched the Welsh tumbling championships in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

As Welsh champion, this qualified Rachel for the first round of British championship semi-finals in Sheffield where she secured a third place finish out of 17 competitors.

Success continued for the year 11 pupil, who managed to walk away from her second semi-final in Coventry in the silver medal place on May 10, securing her a place in July’s British finals.

“Everyone was so surprised how quickly my arm improved,” Rachel said.

“It was a fantastic feeling to win the Welsh championships.I certainly didn’t expect to get silver in the second semi-final.

“When I first got my plates taken out in October, they said it would take a year for me to be back competing properly.”

Rachel’s coach, Joy Sumner, said: “We’re so proud of Rachel. What a fantastic role model –  she never gave up, even after surgery on a broken arm.”

Rachel will compete at the British tumbling finals in Telford on July 5 and said she was “nervous but excited” ahead of the showpiece event.

See full story in the Leader

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