So heading out to my fifth European Championships knowing that it could potentially be my last competition for Great Britain was an extremely strange feeling. At this point, no one knew that this was the case; I said to myself that providing all goes well out there, that it would be the last time I put my hands up after hearing the words “Next up, representing Great Britain, Lucie Colebeck.” I didn’t quite know how to deal with that feeling, so for the time being I pushed it aside… I mean the comp could have gone tits up for all I know!
One thing I would say about this particular feeling is that it made me want to go out and actually enjoy the competition, not that I don’t anyway, but for me I’m always so fixated on my routines and doing well I forget to take everything else in; the environment, the crowd, generally the whole atmosphere of the competition.
We had two training days and they both went pretty well! My personal coach, Vov was on the team as one of the senior coaches which was obviously amazing but at the same was a bit weird… I hadn’t had him at an international with me since 2014! I could tell he also found it a bit odd; it was just something we hadn’t been used to. Yas actually told me that before we left Vov asked “what do I do with Lucie, how do I deal with her in competition?” I must admit the first day of competition he did show his nerves. He asked me what I wanted him to do and where I wanted him to stand and I thought ‘really? I’ve done many British Championships with you and you know where I like you to stand.’ But I totally understood that it was different in this situation. I mean going four years doing numerous World and European championships having to call each other trying to explain how training went and send videos for coaching points, to actually both being there was definitely something we were not familiar with. However it was absolutely awesome to have him by my side at this competition (especially it potentially being my last international).
Prelims day creeped up and I was not in a good place mentally. Not in terms of skills (for once) but in terms of being able to compete. I had this feeling at the World Championships back in November last year. I can’t even explain what went on, it was bizarre. My head was not in comp mode. I know I said I wanted to enjoy the competition and take in the other aspects of it i.e the atmosphere, crowd etc. but my gosh, not that much. I literally was thinking about stupid things, nothing in which was relevant to my tumbling let alone the competition I was about to do!
Nevertheless, I competed my two passes which I admit were most definitely not to the best of my ability but they got to the end and got me through to the final in 5th and then also the team qualifying in 2nd behind Russia. If you know me, I’m one to beat myself up about not doing the best I could… like a lot. So obviously not doing my prelim routines like I knew I could do them really hacked me off. I had the feeling like I did at worlds, pretty darn useless. Almost like a ‘what’s the point’ feeling. I worked so hard in training and these two routines are the easiest ones for me why the hell am I not performing them like I do in training.
Tell you what, first thing that went through my head after this was maybe this is fate, maybe it’s fate telling me I’m ready to finish competing.
Surprisingly, this made the next two days of competition a lot easier, more relaxing I’d say. I remember saying to myself, you’ve done two competitions where you’ve felt like this, had this feeling where you feel like you’re not able to compete properly, the mental aspect of it was taking over your brain; and I laid there and thought sod it! If I go out there tomorrow and get the same feeling, I’ve had it before so it’s nothing new. Use it to your advantage and just embrace it Luce. It’s your body and your control; these feelings are a barrier. After all something has to get in the way, what’s the fun in competition if it’s easy right?
After this really motivational conversation with myself I was so chilled out. I completely relaxed. I enjoyed the time spent with the team. I wanted to take in every moment outside of the competition too. I remember sitting in Greg and Kristof’s room playing game of cards and there was constant laughter in the room. I took a glance at everyone individually and just thought to myself; every GB comp I’ve been on, what a bloody team it’s been! I mean I don’t think I ever laugh so much, honestly my abs get so much better when I go away because I’m always non-stop laughing around them. The gym family is something I absolutely love about being part of the Great Britain team. Each and every one of them are brilliant and all so unique and all of us in one room… I mean you can only imagine!
Team final day has always been a love/hate kind of day for me. Every team final I’ve done I’ve always been the last person to go and having to wait around for 30+ minutes has occasionally resulted in me not performing my best. This year I made the decision to go first up. Done and dusted then. No pressure. Do your job and sit back and watch.
I stood at the top of the track and knew it was going to be a good one, could just feel it. Flick double straight comes flying out through to a double twisting double straight, one step bang! Turned to Vov with a huge grin on my face in which he was doing the same. My score came up on the screen and I looked up and saw it said 36.00. Couldn’t have done much better than that. Now I had the chance to relax (a little bit) and watch the rest of GB and the other teams. All the three GB girls did really well and we all stood together waiting for Anna (RUS) to go. She did a lovely routine and I looked at the girls and said well done girls I think that’s second. Even after Anna’s score came up I still thought it was second, I couldn’t calculate quick enough. The final results of each team came up and we were lying in first!!!! I turned round and grabbed Rachel, we were absolutely buzzing! European team champions again, what a day. That’s the third consecutive time Great Britain senior women have taken the title and to be apart of all those three times is such an immense feeling and such an honour.
It’s always hard going from being on such a high back into competition mode but that’s something we can never help. Individual finals the next day and again, like I did for worlds I said I just want to do the two routines I’ve been training and enjoy the rest of the competition and I’ll be happy.
Thinking about it now, the morning of the finals was a bit of an emotional one. Obviously not 100% knowing then that it was my last international but still knowing it was a possibility was weird. Putting on a GB leotard for the last time, I wanted wear it with honour and pride and that’s what I did.
The warm up went good, I was mostly chilled out obviously had those pre comp butterflies but that was nothing out of the blue. I marched out, stood in front of the judges and of course still had the thought in my head of ‘if a miracle is to happen and I do extremely well this will be the last time I stand in front of an international panel of judges.’ I stood up tall and took it all in one last time.
My first pass didn’t go too great and the results came up, I was in 7th, which I knew was going to be tough to get myself back up there. However, this actually worked to my advantage. I remember walking back, sitting down and my legs went back to normal, they were no longer like jelly. I was completely calm. Mainly because I knew and had already accepted that I wasn’t going to medal this time. Oddly I was (slightly) ok with that. Vov said to me a couple times don’t panic, you’re still in the game just hit second routine and it’s a fight. I just looked up and nodded but I thought the complete opposite. There was no chance I was still in the game.
I walked up the stairs to chalk up ready for my second run and as I finished chalking up I looked up at Elliott, he gave me a nod, you know the ‘you’re Lucie f*cking Colebeck’ nod. (since World Games, Elliott has been an absolute rock and I decided to tell him at the beginning of the week that this might be my last comp so he knew it was a massive deal for me). I then looked to the left up at my mum and I caught her saying the words “come on baby” and my heart sank. My Mum has only ever missed I think two or three small competitions, but she’s been to every single major event I’ve done. I knew that if I did plan of finishing my international career after this comp it was not only a humongous deal for me but for her also. It wouldn’t be just me retiring, she would be too. She’s truly been my number one fan through my entire career, travelling all over the world, following and supporting my successes. After that, I had this rush of adrenaline, it was like a ball of fire had just been shot at me. I stood at the top of the track and said to myself “there’s no reason as to why you can’t do this Luce, the track is beautiful, your training has been amazing, it’s your body your control, now go do your thing.” And that I did… just about haha! The transition came out horrifically but I managed to put a full full straight on the end. I turned round and looked at Vov and gave a shoulder shrug and just said “I’ve done my job Vov” he said he was proud of me and also added in that he hadn’t a clue how I landed it after how bad the transition was hahaha!!!
I walked over to where we had to wait for our scores and I walked past Elliott and my mum and did the same, shrugged my shoulders and said “I’ve done all I can.”
My score surprisingly wasn’t as bad as what I thought it was going to be. I was lying in 1st but I knew I still had four more people to go! Tachina (BEL) and Danilenko (RUS) did their passes and I was still lying in first. I was completely gobsmacked at this point. I had a guaranteed medal! Megan (GBR) and Anna (RUS) we’re still to go. I just had to sit and wait. Their scores came up and again, my brain couldn’t figure out the maths. The final scoreboard came up and I couldn’t see any names because the trampolines were in the way, I could only see 1st and 2nd had a GBR flag next to it. I remember moving to be side and crouching down to see and I just saw Lucie Colebeck next to the number 1. I could not believe it. I just started crying. I saw Vov running to me and I ran over and gave him THE biggest hug.
It had been four years since I’d had the ability to share my success with him as soon as it happened and I was so overwhelmed by it all. He told me after my first routine I still had a fight in me and I didn’t believe it, not for a second… but he did, he knew it was possible. To go from 7th to 1st and be crowned European Champion for the second time in my senior career was a monumental moment for both me and Vov and I’m so glad he was there with me this time.
Now the hard bit…
Personal triumph is not done with one person alone. It involves a whole bunch of people; coaches, judges, team mates, friends and family. Many, many individuals are involved in the road to success and there are lots of people I have to thank for their constant support, not only through this competition, but my whole career.
From the age of 9 when Vov approached me back when I was in team gym at the time playing on trampoline and said “I can make you the next best thing if you come join tumbling” to 22 years old, having competed at 12 British Championships, 7 World Championships, 5 European Championships and 1 World Games and getting 8 British titles, 2 European medals, 8 European titles, 2 World Age titles, 6 World Medals and 1 World Games medal, I’ve made the decision to retire from the sport that has had a tremendous impact in my life. The sport that has taught me to tumble (obviously) taught me right from wrong, taught me that (as much as I hate it) it’s ok for things not to be perfect all the time, that it’s ok to fail, to take each and every day as is comes and it’s taught me to appreciate every single moment whether that’s success or failure. Everything is a lesson learnt and there was always something to take back from it. The sport in which I have gained so many good things from life lessons, to friends that have a huge place in my heart. Being able to overcome all the obstacles that were put in my way has, and will carry on reminding me that anything is possible and perseverance is the key to success.
Getting to be a part of so many spectacular things that I would never have imagined this sport would allow me to do, the Common Wealth Games and the Olympic Games; I mean WOW. To have the opportunity to go to Rio and show the world the art of tumbling was a massive honour and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
I will certainly miss the trips away and spending time with the team. T&T team, gymnasts, judges and officials, you’ve all been awesome and you’ve made each and every competition and absolute blast. Studio one is a particular favourite memory of mine spending the whole week learning the single ladies dance, honestly it was like having another training session! Will miss being on the bus on the way home from the banquet and all of a sudden Jonny B starts singing the national anthem as loud as he can and we all end up joining in (all the other countries weren’t so impressed…) I’ll miss having the most random conversations, laughing until I couldn’t breathe and I will most definitely miss having to rush from the arena to the hotel to get changed for banquet and all meeting in the allocated room for pre drinks (in which we would arrange the day we got there). And I of course will miss getting on the plane the morning after.. most of the time still drunk (throwback to World Games when I almost didn’t get let on the flight (sorry Rob!) But in all seriousness, going away with the team was one of the best things about going to competitions and i’ll treasure those memories forever.
Endless appreciation for my parents. They’ve not only supported me by following my journey but they’ve been able to fund pretty much all my competitions in which I couldn’t be more grateful for. Especially as a junior it’s so overwhelming how much you have to pay out for various expenses such as competitions, training costs, travel etc. and I was fortunate enough to have their help. Every time I had my parents and family come to a competition it was so much better because I knew there were people in the audience that genuinely cared and no matter what the outcome was they were always there for a cuddle after and would say they’re proud of me no matter what, even after competitions that might’ve not gone so well. Guys, I hope you’ve enjoyed my career as much as I have and I truly hope I’ve made you proud!
A huge thank you to my first coach Jeff Saunders for firstly, taking me from a recreational class into his team but secondly and most importantly allowing Vov to take me from his team into tumbling. I found out a few years ago Jeff didn’t want me to leave but he knew I’d go further in tumbling than I would in team gym… I mean I was only good at the tumbling!! Every time I go into training he will always give me a ‘how you doing Luce’ and will always ask me how training is going. I’ve got a lot of time for this man and I’m extremely thankful that you supported my decision in making the move… much better suited for tumbling, team gym not so much… we all know I can’t dance!!!
Vov being that number one person. What. A. Guy. Two words for you Vov… THANK YOU! Thank you for not only being the person responsible for making me achieve all those results, but for being the person who has taught me so much more than just how to tumble. You saw something in me that no one else did and took me all the way to standing on numerous World and European podiums. No matter what was going on in and outside of training you were always there for me, ears listening to me rant, a shoulder to cry on and a smile to show me everything was going to be ok. And I have absolutely no doubt that in the future when I’m having a hard time, I’ll be knocking on your door to be “Vov’d” and you’ll make me realise everything is ok.
You’ve had a tremendous impact in shaping me into the woman I’ve become (I’m sure my parents are thankful I was disciplined by a mad Russian, I was good as gold as home because I remember my mum saying she’d tell you I was being naughty and you’d tell me off…!) You raised me like you would a daughter and I couldn’t be more grateful.
The athlete/coach relationship is about human interaction and getting to know them, spending all your time trying to accomplish the same goals, anyone will tell you that. Vov has been my biggest inspiration and my biggest supporter. Taught me things I’ll have with me forever from courage, discipline and dedication, to respect, teamwork and friendship! High expectations are the key the everything and Vov never forgot this. No matter what kind of situation I was in leading up to the competition he always believed and that is something I admire so much about him. He sees a vision and works and works and works until it becomes a reality.
Imagine a moment in your life where all your dreams come true, it’s the greatest moment of your life and you have one person to experience it with, who’s standing next to you? Every competition I had success at, Vov was the one standing next to me whether this was him on the floor as a coach or stood up in the stands giving me a thumbs up and a smile, and if he wasn’t able to be the one standing next to me he was always my first phone call as soon as I walked out the arena.
I’ve got an incredible coach but more importantly, a friend for life. Nothing I say or do will ever show or tell you how grateful I am that you walked over to trampoline that day (even though I was absolutely terrified!)
Vov, you’ve been my absolute hero and I love you!
Anyway, this has been a long one so finishing it up…
The first time I jumped on the track 13 years ago I fell in love; fell in love for the first time and this will certainly be the hardest heartbreak I’ll have. I could not have asked for a better journey, nor a better career and even though I don’t feel ready to retire (but then again will that day ever come?!) I look forward to the new challenges that’ll come my way.
As much as I don’t want to finish this one, I’m ready to begin the next chapter of my life; Cirque Du Soleil…