Nigeria’s flag bearer in the Rhythmic Gymnastics event, Jade Faulkner has expressed delight in representing Nigeria at the XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
The 24 year old who is the first female gymnast to represent Nigeria in Rhythmic Gymnastics spoke on how she traced her heritage to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“I did a lot of research into my family history and it made me very proud to be a Nigerian. For so long I’ve been English and my coach said it will be nice to embrace this side of me. I’m so proud to compete for Nigeria. It really means a lot to me and it was really good to see so many Nigerians in the crowd.”
Faulkner said participating for Nigeria is a dream come true and spoke on her plans for the future.
“The experience here has been amazing. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I’m going to take a break right now and let my body recover and then maybe I’ll try some other sports. I’ll like to change sport in the future so we’ll see what happens.
“I’ve done gymnastics for a while now and I feel like I’m beginning to pass over my performance. I want to try something new, a new challenge like some athletics events maybe,” Faulkner said.
Her coach, Ellen Watson was full of praise for the gymnast who competed in the team final and individual qualification sub division 1- rotation 1 to 3 and she came 10th overall.
“I think she really rose to the occasion and now she seems to have embraced her Nigerian roots.
“She did so well from the very first performance from the hoop routine. She brought a charm and an expression and a personality that doesn’t often get seen in Rhythmic Gymnastics.
“So we are just so grateful that Team Nigeria have embraced us and taken her on and we feel like part of your family now so thank you so much.”
Watson who said she first met Jade back in 2011 when she was part of the British Olympic team added that Faulkner also has the qualifications to develop rhythmic gymnastics in Nigeria.
“She has dual nationalities so she’s obviously got Nigerian passport and competing for the land that her grandfather was born in.
“I’ve been coaching her full time for about a year now. We have a very good relationship and she’s such a hard working individual so it’s very easy to coach her.
“We will like to push rhythmic gymnastics within Nigeria. I think it’s a fantastic sport for young girls and I think that if Jade can help inspire the next generation of Nigerian gymnasts that can only be a good thing”.
On the possibilities of Faulkner changing her sport soon, Watson said it will all work out for her ancestral home.
“I don’t know but I think often, what happens with gymnastics is that athletics like them because they have all of the upper body strength.
“At 24, she’s at the upper end of rhythmic gymnastics but I know that she’s got a certified coaching qualification so she can still coach alongside and help with your next generation.”
Watson also relished every moment spent with Team Nigeria.
“We feel so good and you’ve treated us like we were born in Nigeria and it’s been a lovely experience. Everybody has been so helpful, so warm, friendly and supportive and that’s what Rhythmic Gymnastics means. It means a good strong African contingent”.
Faulkner, competed in the Team Final and Individual Qualification Sub Division 1- Rotation 1 to 3 came 10th overall after she scored 6.000 points in the Ribbon and 9.800 points in the hoop. She scored a total of 33.800 points after four rotations.