“We were crazy kids who just jumped on everything”: Gymnastics twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova | Gymnastics

EOn Friday morning, in the large open gymnasiums of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova, they are preparing for takeoff on a resilient blue floor a few meters away. They turned around and persuaded the photographers to shoot them. It is expected that they will be adjusted very well and the camera will capture the same twins in the same pose in the air. His back was arched like a horseshoe, his hands were about to reach the floor, his legs were stretched, and his legs were pointed like a ballerina. The countdown will begin. At the observatory on the second floor, a crowd of parents and small children are watching in anticipation for a preschool gymnastics class. 3, 2, 1. The kids are probably unaware that they are watching the actions of the two Olympic bronze medals, so they are fixed. The jump seems to me well tuned, but did it work with the camera? It turned out not this time.

This is the first magazine photo shoot of the Gaddirois twins and I can feel their excitement. In addition to acrobatics on the floor, they suggest poses on beams and bars – kicks, handstands and jumps of all kinds. Their Olympic-level work ethic is shining. “I was able to straighten my leg,” Jessica suggests kicking the beam and then bouncing it back. When it’s time for a solo portrait, the unphotographed twins pick up her phone and proudly record their turn in the spotlight. There is a fierce commitment to equality between them. When a photographer puts one twin in front, he requests another set of photos. This time I will switch the location. “We are twins, but it’s great to be recognized as an individual,” Jennifer later tells me.

Jessica and Jennifer defeated the masses even before the Tokyo Olympics began. They were the same 16-year-old student who had just completed a GCSE and was trying to live the Olympic dream. Just by flying to Tokyo, just by flying the longest plane ever, butterflies spawned. For everyone looking from home, the excitement of Gadilovas was visible in the way they rolled, cheered, hugged, stood on the podium and received the British bronze medal in women’s team gymnastics ( Country’s first medal at the first event in 93 years). Seeing them preparing to compete, I was impressed with how young they looked than anyone else. They stepped up to play, but the distinction disappeared. Twisting in the air and hanging in the bar, they appeared with complete peace of mind and were delighted to show the world what they could do.

After returning home, they attended the premiere of a new James Bond movie, starred in Blue Peter, named after a double-decker bus in Alice Burley, and turned 17 years old. People pay for meals at restaurants and ask for autographs. (“I don’t feel that It’s special, “says Jessica). And their friends finally understood what the twins were doing when they said they were practicing. “One of my friends said,” I knew you were always trained. I didn’t know what you were training for, “Jessica smiled. say. Jennifer nods. “People in my class a few years ago were: that is Are you gymnastics? “

Jennifer: “I love showing the world what I can do.” Photo: Rick Guest / Guardian

Jessica and Jennifer started training at the age of six. Their parents, Natig and Iona, moved from Azerbaijan to London in 2001 and to Dublin for work in 2004, where twins were born and then to Coventry. So they were put into class. “We were crazy kids who just jumped at everything,” recalls Jessica. Parents who run a small logistics company said, “We have made us participate in many sports, but gymnastics is what we are particular about and loved most.” They moved to London, where they moved to Alice Barry at the age of 12, where they continued to train hard in gymnastics. What do they like about it? “A great and amazing skill,” says Jennifer. “I love performing and I go to these big competitions and show the world what I can do.”

The twins learned that they were selected for the Olympics only in May. Reaching that moment required a difficult training regime that was further complicated by Covid. The incident at their school last winter reminded us of the seriousness of the pandemic and its potential impact on the twins’ Olympic dreams. The school remained open, but they got permission to take classes and GCSE remotely. If they couldn’t train in the gym due to blockage restrictions, they took the equipment home and practiced in the garage. Are they stuck at home and tired of not being able to meet their classmates? “We had each other,” Jessica replies, looking at her sister. “She is my best friend.”

Their bond is strong. Throughout our conversations, they often look at each other, back up each other, complete each other’s writings, but they like to be seen as individuals. Jennifer is said to be quiet and Jessica is said to be noisy. Jessica is enthusiastically recording Instagram photos when I’m there. They are full of energy and are especially encouraging when talking about the strangeness of Tokyo and their new fame. What do they break apart? There is a pause. “Um,” they both say. “It’s difficult,” Jessica adds. “I feel like we’re doing almost everything together.”

Gymnast Jessica Gadirova posing against a red background
Jessica: “We do almost everything together.” Photo: Rick Guest / Guardian

How did they feel when they stood on the podium? “Shock, distrust” Jennifer begins. “There are so many emotions flowing, like happiness,” Jessica continues. “You feel like you are at the top of the world, shocked, and in your dreams.”

Many eyes were fixed when entering the game Simone Biles, Dominated women’s gymnastics for the past seven years and was expected to win. However, after hitting the vault in the women’s team’s final, Biles withdrew due to medical problems. The latest information on her condition was published daily. After she got off the floor, the vault, the uneven bars, Won a bronze medal on the balance beam.. The story continued around the world, but it had a direct impact on Gadirova. Jennifer was the first reserve in the women’s floor final, and Biles’ withdrawal allowed her to compete. “I was thrilled because the floor is my favorite,” she says. She knew that Biles was having a hard time, so she was prepared for that possibility, but added, “I was sick of Simone.” Participating in the same competition as their longtime hero was a reward of its own. Biles was scheduled to retire after Tokyo, but she recently hinted that she might “keep the door open” for future competitions. “We are at the beginning of our career and she is just about to finish her,” Jennifer says. “Not many people can say that they stood on the podium with idols.”

Biles later revealed that he wanted to protect his mental health when he withdrew from the tournament, explaining that “there were days when everyone tweeted you and you felt the weight of the world.” Her decision was made when more athletes were talking about their well-being. Tennis star Naomi Osaka tried to skip the press conference at this year’s French Open because of mental stress.She was fined $ 15,000 and was previously threatened with suspension. Withdrawal from the tournament.. In an essay explaining her decision, Osaka wrote, “Athletes are humans.”In front of her US Open victory, 18-year-old Emma Raducanu retires Wimbledon after experiencing dyspnea, She said her successful run “caught up with me.” All three face criticism.Conservative and right-wing expert Biles are called “weak” and “selfish” Said Raducanu to “strengthen”Some suggestions Osaka was a hypocrite who continued to appear on the cover of magazines, skipping post-match meetings..

But the twins inspired these moments. Far from being selfish or weak, they signaled young athletes that they too could take care of themselves in a often competitive and demanding world. “It’s good that they’re saying,” says Jessica. “If they have a problem, it can help the next generation understand that they have a problem …” “They can speak for themselves,” Jennifer said to her. After finishing the sentence of my sister, I jump in.

Gymnastics Jennifer (left) and Jessica Gadirova stand back to back in a bar with a blue background
Jennifer (left) and Jessica: “We are twins, but it’s great to be recognized as an individual.” Photo: Rick Guest / Guardian. Styling: Peter Bevan.Makeup and Hair: Sara Cherry with Triny London

In Tokyo, Gadilovas realized that they were no longer just young gymnasts looking at the starry sky in the name of a veteran. “It’s amazing that we are as good as they are,” says Jessica. Former British gymnastic champion Craig Heap, a BBC commentator in Tokyo, described Gaddirobas’ style as “powerful, dynamic, elegant and beautiful,” adding: Beyond Grace … But what Gadirova has gained is both bits. The heap was particularly impressed with how they were nervous. That confidence in the future will drive them. “

Has the twin situation settled since the first praise after the Olympics? “I don’t think it’s going to return to normal,” Jessica said a bit before adding it. Riding their new wave of fame is exciting. At Bond’s premiere, they sat in front of Stormzy and gave him popcorn – they weren’t allowed to eat it because it was infused with alcohol. “We said we were Olympic bronze medalists,” Jennifer says. “I respect you very much because gymnastics is really difficult.” We are just getting started … “She sees her sister. “Fan girls,” they say together.

For now, they juggle gymnastics and their research and are back to being teenagers. After spending the morning kicking over today’s photo shoot, they go to school. They are new to Sixth Form and are studying sports and management. They say it’s much easier to handle than GCSE. They can use their free time to do more gymnastics. Like many 17-year-olds, they look forward to learning how to drive. More typically, they are laser-focused on the next international convention. I ask what they are training for. “2022 Commonwealth Games, Europe and World Championships”, they rattle all at once. And Paris 2024, do I ask? “Yes, it’s gradually increasing to Paris,” says Jessica with a little smile. As for their ambitions, I feel they are just warming up. There’s still a lot more Gadillowa is trying to do and I want to prove it.

“We were crazy kids who just jumped on everything”: Gymnastics twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova | Gymnastics

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