Nile Wilson: Olympic Games medallist retires from gymnastics at the age of 24

Gymnast Nile Wilson
Nile Wilson won five Commonwealth Games gold medals during his career

Olympic medallist Nile Wilson has announced his retirement from gymnastics.

The 24-year-old from Leeds created history at Rio 2016 when he became the first Briton to claim an Olympic medal on the horizontal bar, winning bronze.

He also has European, world and Commonwealth honours to his name.

In a statement on Instagram, he wrote: “Today I hang up my hand guards and retire from the professional sport of gymnastics."

He added: "It is my time to move on and I can’t wait for the next chapter."

Wilson enjoyed a successful junior career, becoming the first Briton to win five gold medals at the European Junior Gymnastics Championship in 2014 before representing England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where he won horizontal bar and team gold as well as silver in the parallel bars and all-around bronze.

He helped Great Britain to team silver at the World Championships in 2015 before a memorable 2016 where he became European horizontal bar champion before his Olympic achievement.

In his statement,external-link he added: “I was a young boy with a dream. With a lot of work and belief, I'm proof you can achieve anything you want in life. Unfortunately my body just couldn’t keep up and that’s OK.

“Gymnastics, you are the best sport in the world. You’re my first love, my addiction, you set me free, you gave me purpose and experiences I could not have dreamed of.

“I am now in tears writing this. Everyone that has watched, supported or found inspiration from my gymnastics, thank you so much.”

Gymnast Nile Wilson
Wilson became the first British gymnast to win an Olympic medal on the horizontal bar

An ankle injury after Rio left him with a race to be fit for the 2017 World Championships, but he recovered in time and was sixth in the all-around final.

Wilson added to his Commonwealth Games tally in 2018, winning gold in the all-around, horizontal bar and team event, as well as silver in the rings and parallel bars.

But he was struck by injury again in 2019 and needed to have corrective surgery on a bulging disc in his neck.

Wilson told BBC Sport that the injury was causing him "excruciating pain" and he experienced anxiety and depression afterwards.

He has 1.43 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, where he has spoken openly about the mental health issues he has dealt with.

Last year, he criticised a "culture of abuse" in British gymnastics after the sport was hit by allegations of mistreatment, saying athletes were "treated like pieces of meat".

He was angry that a complaint he lodged with his home base of Leeds Gymnastics Club about on an altercation with a senior member of staff at a club social event was dismissed by the club and then upheld after a review by British Gymnastics.

'The risk was starting to outweigh the reward'

In an interview on Thursday with BBC Sport, Wilson expanded on how his injury setbacks have affected him.

He said: "I said I would stop gymnastics when I fell out of love with the process or my body does not let me do it any more, and both are true today.

"I've had a rough journey with injuries since my neck surgery with my fusion in my spine and it has been complication after complication over the last two years.

"No matter how much I give, push and believe my body just goes 'no, mate, we're not doing this any more' so it definitely feels the right time. I've made this decision and am content with it.

"I'm much more proud that five months after getting metal shoved in my spine I was performing at world-class gymnastics than any medal I won.

"People tell me I had some career and it was a crazy, bonkers time and I loved every single moment of it.

"The risk was starting to outweigh the reward. How badly do I want an Olympic gold medal? I've got a medal and it's an object collecting dust.

"It's a special memory of a special moment but I want a healthy life. It's not a wrist injury, I could've ended up in a wheelchair."

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