Beckford wants to extend support to develop gymnastics in Jamaica
DOHA: Since Reiss Beckford switched his gymnastics allegiance from Great Britain to Jamaica three years ago, he has embraced his driving role in helping the sport establish itself on the international scene.
“With all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years, I feel it’s a part of my job to pass it on to the other guys and help them as much as I can,” Beckford told www.worldgymdoha18.com after Sunday’s podium training for the 48th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. “I think that having someone like me in the team relieves a little pressure.”
Beckford, a native of England whose father is Jamaican, credits his team-mates’ sense of purpose and enthusiasm for the Caribbean island’s recent improvements.
“We’re always working together and trying to move forward,” he said. “With every step we make for gymnastics in Jamaica, we’re making history along the way. It’s an absolutely fantastic journey we’re on, and there is so much more to come.”
Regardless of how the Jamaican team performs here, its presence is precedent-setting. Jamaica has not entered the team competition at the Worlds before. Beckford was among five Jamaican male gymnasts who competed at the 2017 edition in Montreal, Canada, where no team competition took place.
For all his Jamaican pride, though, Beckford has not abandoned his British roots. He looks forward to competing with -- not against -- British gymnasts Max Whitlock and Brinn Bevan. The trio still train together, under the same coach, at South Essex Gymnastics Club in England.
“Constantly doing build-ups for competitions and training with them is absolutely fantastic,” Beckford said. “I was with the other boys in the British squad for so many years that they are like brothers to me. Seeing them out here competing and achieving their dreams is fantastic. To be able to that with them is a great opportunity.”