by herself

It was in my blood

My name is Danielle Jones, and I am a former King Edmunds and Great Britain Acrobatic Gymnast. I started my gymnastics career at about 7 or 8 years old. From the minute I started, I knew that I loved the sport and that this was what I wanted to do; my mum was a gymnast herself when she was younger and was Nikki Thorne’s top in a trio. I would watch her videos all the time, teach myself her routines, and dream of being as good as my mum, if not better.

History repeats itself

As my career in gymnastics developed, Nik became my coach, and I was then partnered with her daughter Shanie-Redd Thorne; I was the top, and she was the base. We, first of all, started in a trio and competed in our first competition together in Germany. I remember being so scared to compete and to travel across the world without my mum or dad, but when I got there and did my first routine, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I would watch everyone compete in the bigger competitions and dream of being as good as they were. I used to look up to Maiken Thorne and Molly Grehan, who were a very successful women’s pair for Great Britain and our club. Me and Shanie would spend hours practising, learning Maiken’s and Molly’s routines, then making up our own dances and putting on shows for everyone.

Great Britain Squad and the Worlds

In 2011 our time arrived; we were picked for the Great Britain Squad to compete at the European Championships in Bulgaria as the Junior Women’s pair. This was such an achievement just to be picked to go, and although we did not win a medal at this competition, it pushed us to work even harder to get picked again for the next competition. As 2012 approached, so did the World Championships; we worked so hard to represent our country: we were selected to represent Great Britain as the Junior Woman’s pair. We went into this with open minds, watching all of the other pairs from other countries competing and training before us. We were not hopeful that we would win a medal, and we were happy enough to have the opportunity to be in Orlando at the ESPN Centre, competing in the World Championships. As the competition went on and having completed our second routine, we were through to the final. We did a clean combined routine and anxiously awaited the next pair to complete their routine. We could not watch as the last pair awaited their results, but we just heard our team mates begin to scream and shout, and OMG, we got 3rd place at the World Championships!!! We had never been so pleased.

Gillian Harris base with Nikki Thorne middle and Farrah Young, Danielle’s mum top. Photo taken in 1993 at the European Championships in Antwerp. Trevor Low

Above – Gillian Harris base with Nikki Thorne middle and Farrah Young, Danielle’s mum top. Photo taken in 1993 at the European Championships in Antwerp by Trevor Low



Danielle Jones and Shanie - Great Britain Woman’s pair to win the World Games

Above – Danielle Jones and Shanie – first GB Woman’s pair to win the World Games

From juniors to seniors

Then as time went on, we worked our way up to senior level, competing for Great Britain and two World Cups, placing 2nd in one and 3rd in another and 2nd overall, preparing us for our final two competitions together. As 2013 went on, the World Games soon approached, and we flew out to Columbia with the Great Britain Team. On arrival, we were devastated when we were told that we might not be able to compete due to the severity of the heat in the arena. We fought and fought, as did our families, fellow team members, coaches and friends back at home until British Gymnastics granted us permission to compete; we were among the first to compete the next day. As we warmed up for our first balance routine, I remember being filled from head to toe with nerves, and then it was time. I remember marching out into the arena, and it hit me; I had never competed in front of a crowd of this size before; there were thousands of people in this arena. Sadly, the nerves got the better of me, and we fell out of our second balance move. Myself and Shanie had never been so upset, but we had to pull ourselves together and prepare for our next Tempo routine, and after a pep talk from Nik, we were ready to go again.

The music began

As the music began, we started our routine and the crowd began to go wild, screaming, shouting, cheering, clapping, and dancing. Little did we know that our tempo routine music was Colombian folk music. That was it; we had the crowd on our side. After a clean tempo routine, we felt confident and ready to go into the final. We then competed our final routine of combined. We were the last woman’s pair to compete in the final routines, so once the results were in, we would know where we placed. We completed a very clean combined routine and so we anxiously awaited our results, then they finally came through.

Above – Danielle JONES — Shanie-Redd THORNE (Great Britain) — 2013 European Champions – Balance Routine

Above – Danielle JONES — Shanie-Redd THORNE (Great Britain) — 2013 European Champions – Dynamic Routine

Above – Danielle JONES — Shanie-Redd THORNE (Great Britain) — 2013 European Champions

I was only 14 and Shanie only 17

We started screaming, jumping, shouting and crying. We couldn’t believe it, I was only 14, and Shanie was only 17, but we had done it. We had become the first ever Great Britain Women’s pair to win the World Games. We just could not believe it! After we had got our medals and stood to the rise of the Union Jack flag and the national Anthem, we came to the corridors where we were met by crowds of people, all wanting photos or an autograph, it felt like we were famous, and we just could not believe it! It was the most amazing feeling I had ever felt in my entire life. After this, we then had our final competition together. This was the European Championships in Portugal. We worked so hard together to get to this last point and were happy to just win one last medal together. We ended up as European Champions in the overall final, silver medallists in the Balance final and bronze medallists in the tempo final; gold, silver and bronze, ONE OF EACH MEDAL!!! We could not have asked for a better result and way to end our career. Shanie and I left competing together on an amazing note, and we couldn’t have done it without each other!

Danielle & Shani competing at their last event, the 2013 European Championships

Above – Danielle & Shani competing at their last event, the 2013 European Championships

Danielle Jones - 2013 European Championships, winning gold overall

Above – Danielle Jones and Shani – 2013 European Championships – Gold Overall

Danielle & Shani competing at their last event, the 2013 European Championships - silver in the balance

Above – Danielle & Shani – 2013 European Championships – Silver Balance Routine

What Next?

After this, I went on to try and become a base; however I found that this was not for me and decided to sit down with Nik and tell her that I no longer wished to continue competing or training. She was sad to see me go; however, I didn’t completely leave as I then continued coaching the younger gymnasts for a while. This then came to an end in 2018 when I decided to move onto my next path in life and start in Domiciliary care which is caring for the elderly in their houses, I continued to do this until January 2019, when I wished to progress my career further in healthcare and began working at a Nursing Home called Woodlands Manor. Within this period at Woodlands Manor, I progressed very quickly in my career, starting as a junior care assistant and then being promoted to a senior care assistant three months after starting. In the August, I was promoted again, this time to a Team Leader and remained in this role until March 2020, when I was then promoted to a Care Manager within the home. I continued to work there as Care Manager until I was given the chance to become the Registered Manager at The Worthies Residential Home (one of our sister homes) in July 2021. Here I continued to improve the care home and the quality of care that was given to my residents, building many relationships along the way! Then in the September (2022), I was promoted again, and I am now the Manager of one of the bigger Nursing Homes, Westgreen House (another one of our sistering homes). Since being here, I have learned so much, and I cannot wait to progress further again in my career. I never thought I would enjoy healthcare so much. I have finally found something that I am as passionate about as I was about gymnastics as the young me. I live with my parents Paul and Farrah Jones, who have always been and continue to be very supportive of my career. I have two brothers, one called Morgan and the other called Quinn. Finally, I have my boyfriend, Owen Robertson, who supports my career and pushes me to be the best version of me I could be! I could not have achieved all of these things and become the person I am today if it wasn’t for the people in my life now and in my life as a gymnast. If you want something, you have to work hard to get it and believe me, it will be hard, but it will be so worth it in the end. I am proud of all that I have achieved in my life and the things which myself and Shanie achieved in our gymnastics career.

Acrobat Danielle Jones in her life after gymnastics

Above – Acrobat Danielle Jones in her life following gymnastics

Danielle Jones

Published June 2023