‘You may not believe that you can go from Tumble Tots to a Commonwealth Games, but you’ll never know unless you try’ - That’s the message for this year’s Women’s Sports Week from Team England ambassador Mimi-Isabella Cesar.
Mimi admits that even when she took up rhythmic gymnastics, it took her a long time to fully grasp it. But her persistence, and always pushing herself completely changed her as a person.
Now, as a Team England hopeful for Gold Coast 2018, she reflects on all of that hard work as she gears up for the tournament of a lifetime in Australia.
“I started gymnastics as a toddler when you just have a little play, and then I just continued going to classes” she said.
“I was an artistic gymnast at the beginning and then I went to a recreational competition and watched a display.
“There was a girl doing a rhythm routine and I turned to my mum and said, ‘I’d really like to do that’.
“So then we turned up to a rhythm class and first of all I was really bad at it because my coordination was awful, so I’d throw apparatus up and be looking in the air thinking, ‘where has it gone!’
“But I just worked really hard at it and the rest is history.”
Having already competed in World Championships and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Mimi is eager to experience the atmosphere of another Commonwealth Games.
She is also desperate to go a step further than Glasgow, where she narrowly missed out on a medal with Team England in the team competition.
She said: “We just missed out on a bronze medal last time when we came fourth as a team so we were pretty gutted, but that’s fired us up for next year.
“We want to come away with a team medal, preferably a gold one! But we are aiming for podium places and some individual medals as well.”
The prospect of competing in Australia is at the forefront of Mimi’s mind and is shaping all her training and preparation with less than a year to go.
“Glasgow was absolutely amazing. It was probably one of the best competitions I’ve ever been to. I’ve competed at World Championships and European Championships before but that multi-sport feeling of being in a camp with people from loads of different sports and getting to know them was amazing. I’d be honoured if I could do it again.”
With only three places up for grabs and seven athletes competing for places, Mimi has to keep up with a demanding summer schedule.
But despite the intense competition, Mimi remains close to her teammates as they all undergo similar preparation for Gold Coast 2018.
She said: “I’m in the squad at the moment, there’s just seven girls now. We have the English Championships a week on Sunday and that’s the first kind of competition that they’re going to start whittling it down a bit.
“There’s three girls that go in the official team so we then start trials in October. We have about four trials I’d say from October to January where we’re aiming to get top three spots to be able to get selected for the team.
“Our training has already become intense because we’re less than a year to go now until Gold Coast 2018. The things I do in training and competition are all in preparation for the end goal, which is the Commonwealth Games.
“We’re in quite a heavy competition season at the moment and I’ve just come back from Poland and I did so well there and got my first international rhythmic title last weekend so that’s really good.”
Alongside her training Mimi is also a gymnastics teacher in a school where she has seen first-hand what kids can achieve against all their expectations.
Her final message for Women’s Sports Week is to encourage young girls to get involved in sport so that more people can experience the joys of sport that she has.
She said: “It’s such an honour to teach these children and give them the opportunity to do something they’d never done before and never thought they could do.
“To see how proud they are of themselves when they do well is lovely and for me to give something back that I’ve taken from the sport.
“Sport has definitely made me the person I am today. It has challenged me and changed me to go for what I really want to do in order to achieve my dreams. Sport has pushed me to do well in everything I do.
“I think challenging yourself and discovering your limits and pushing through them will really mould the person you become so I’d encourage any young girl to try and see what it can do for them because it’s amazing.”