Worlds debut a happy homecoming for Sweden’s Castles
DOHA: English-born Swedish gymnast Jessica Castles is enjoying somewhat of a homecoming as she readies herself for the 48th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships that will begin here at Aspire Dome on October 25.
Castles, the daughter of a Swedish mother and an English father, began her gymnastics career at age three in the Qatari capital. She lived and trained here for nine years before moving back to England at age 12. Her father continues to reside here, where he works in the construction industry.
Ties among three countries put Castle in a unique comfort zone for her Worlds debut, and she said the choice to pursue Swedish representation, based on her dual citizenship, came with relative ease.
“I didn’t really struggle with it that much, because I’ve always felt quite Swedish,” Castles told www.worldgymdoha18.com during a training session. “My mother has always kept Swedish traditions in our family.”
Worlds give the 16-year-old the chance to establish what she hopes will be her own legacy in Swedish gymnastics, starting with a solid all-around performance.
“I just want to go through my routines and see where that takes me,” said Castles, who trains often in Sweden and speaks fluent Swedish. “I’m here mainly to get the experience, and try to perform my routines as best I can.”
Despite her limited exposure at the senior international level, Castles said that taking her first Worlds in stride will allow her to feel at home among the sports’ establishment.
“I’ve tried not to think about it too much, or over-think it,” she said. “I’m just training hard, as normal.”