- Never a finalist before and now two at once
- Compatriot Kat Driscoll finishes sixth
Rio Olympics: Bryony Page was ecstatic after surprising the crowd, the bookmakers and, perhaps, even herself with a silver in trampolining on her Olympic debut.
If any Briton was due to succeed in this event, it was the much-fancied 2012 veteran Kat Driscoll but Page produced the performance, if not of a lifetime that surely has many big days to come, then certainly of her career thus far. It left her stunned but far from speechless. She would have been satisfied with a place in the final.
“Just getting into the Olympic final, going out the back and doing my warm-ups, I was like: ‘I’m an Olympic finalist!’” she said.
“After my performance I was so happy because it was the best I could have done on the day and, finding out I’d got a medal, I couldn’t hold my legs up. I collapsed and was crying my eyes out.
“I didn’t expect to medal and to get a silver, I couldn’t have asked for more. I got up there and did my absolute best on that trampoline when it mattered in the final. I put so much effort in, I’ve put everything into training and to improving myself as a person and an athlete and it’s paid off in the most amazing way I can think of.
“I think once I’ve retired from the sport and watching the Olympics not as an athlete is when it will sink in. It’s been an incredible journey so far and hopefully more to come.”
Page, 25 and from Preston, qualified for the final in seventh position but, when the pressure came on, produced a superb final routine to delight the judges, who awarded her a score of 56.040. She knew it was good, rushing to the arms of her coach after descending from the apparatus.
That bounced her into the gold medal position and briefly, after Driscoll had taken to the trampoline, Britain occupied the top two spots.
But then came Canada’s reigning Olympic champion, Rosannagh MacLennan, who blew away the crowd with a turn of soaring majesty, tumbling and piking at extraordinary altitudes. It was good enough for gold and, after China’s Li Dan had somewhat flunked her routine, silver was confirmed for Page with Li taking bronze. Page’s squeals of delight as a medal was confirmed were audible throughout the auditorium.
For Driscoll there was delight in her training partner’s achievements tinged with natural disappointment. She competed in this event at London 2012 and was devastated not to reach the final then.
“It’s a real mix of emotions,” she said. “Coming in, the big aim was to make a final so it was really good to have done that.
“We haven’t had a girl make the final yet, so for two of us to do it is amazing. I’m disappointed, my routine in the final was much better than in the preliminaries and it didn’t score as much, so on a personal level that’s just a bit disappointing.
“But I think it’s four years of hard work not to be in the same position I was in in London. We’re from a sport no one really knows about and we get lost in some of the bigger sports so it’s good that two of us made the final and one got a medal.”
Page was generous in recognising her training partner’s support. “She’s such a strong competitor. Knowing I’ve got a team-mate alongside me in the prelims, I knew that I could push myself and really go for it.
“Having her there – she was going to compete after me – gave me the confidence to do it. And having her to train alongside helped so much.”
Page is a recent graduate in life sciences from Sheffield University; her PhD was a study of the vocal capacity of dinosaurs and she confirmed they probably did not roar à la Jurassic Park in a brief but entertaining diversion.
It has been a mixed Olympics for Britain’s gymnasts to date. Only Max Whitlock, with a bronze in the men’s individual all-round, has troubled the podium despite both men’s and women’s teams being fancied.
Jane Allen, the British Gymnastics CEO, was delighted to reflect on more success. “This is a historic moment for Great Britain and British Gymnastics’ trampoline programme. This medal has been years in the making and the result proves just what’s possible when plans, dreams and investment combine.”