JACQUELINE LEAVY (now Beltrao)
Marsden GC / Coventry RGC
Coaches – Lois Curtis / Marion Sands
Twice British Senior Champion 1983 & 1984 and Olympian 1984
Born in Dublin on the 21st of April, 1965.
I was the first British RG gymnast to qualify for an Olympic Games – qualifying at the World Championships in 1983 whilst achieving a Master Gymnast pin at the same competition (a score of 36 across the four pieces of apparatus); this won a place for GB at the Los Angeles Olympics and fulfilled a childhood dream of competing at an Olympics.
Having watched Olga Korbut at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972 and then Nadia Comaneci in Montreal in 1976, I was inspired to one day try to represent my country.
I was selected for my first international in Sofia, Bulgaria, aged 11 and went on to represent Great Britain over 50 times in tournaments across the World up to the age of 22 when I retired from the sport.
My best result came at an international in Belgium when I took the Gold Medal. I also achieved a fourth-placed finish at the Silent Night Beds International at Wembley in 1984, behind the World beating Bulgarians.
I was never the top British junior gymnast, often finishing second, but I had a huge work ethic and was determined to reach my goal in the end. The work paid off in 1983 when I became Senior British Champion, a title I successfully defended a year later.
I was a member of the Marsden Gymnastic Club in Coventry from the age of seven and won my first medal (a bronze) at the Coventry Championships that same year.
I later became Coventry Champion and won this multiple times.
After gymnastics, I finished my degree in Sports Science at Birmingham University. I became a sports reporter for Sky Television, where I still work as the breakfast sports anchor on Sky News, interviewing sports stars from Premier League footballers to Olympians.
by Jacquie Beltrao
Published June 2023
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