Humility, honors hold down pressure for Britain's Alice Upcott and Dominic Smith08/07/2014
Britain's Alice Upcott and Dominic Smith are honest about it: They're not too nervous going into their first senior World Championships. The surprise champions at last summer's World Games in Cali (COL) feel well prepared for this competition. And that’s something, because they know what it's like not to be.
|Reigning World Games champions Alice Upcott and Dominic Smith (GBR) are Britain's best chance for gold in Mixed Pairs at the 2014 World Acrobatic Championships in Levallois (FRA).|
At their first Junior European Championships in 2011, Upcott and Smith -- who had been a pair for all of three weeks at the time -- were thrust into major competition when the British Mixed Pair originally scheduled to compete withdrew unexpectedly. Showing two borrowed and one newly-learned routine, Upcott and Smith still placed second.
After that experience, "I think the coaches knew we could deal with the pressure straightaway," Smith, now 19, remarked.
Coming into the World Championships, the duo has new pressures to deal with. Their surprise victory in Cali, followed by the 2013 European title in Mixed Pair, has put a target on their backs.
"You never expect to win any competition you do, so we were fortunate it just went our way," Smith said. "It gives us a lot of confidence, because we've had to deal with that kind of pressure before, but I would say it adds more pressure to us, so it balances out that way."
To meet the challenge, the duo has worked to improve all aspects of their routines. The pendulum in Acro has swung toward difficulty recently, and Upcott and Smith have worked to add harder elements to their already difficult exercises.
"We've just tried to put in more and more difficulty this year, trying to keep up with the rest of the world, trying to push the limits of difficulty as well," Smith said.
Artistically, "our routines are kind of mixed," Upcott commented. "Balance is kind of like a love story. It's quite gentle. [Dynamic] is a bit more upbeat. It has a bit of culture to it." Their combined routine is "a mix of the two," Smith said.
The two have an excellent grounding in gymnastics. Both began gymnastics as a result of their siblings -- Smith followed his sister to the gym and did Artistic before switching to Acro around age 11. Upcott's older brother Edward won a complete set of medals in Men's Pairs at three different Acro World Championships with three different partners.
That gave Alice, who is six years younger, a front row seat to elite level Acro at a young age. Though she started gymnastics at age two, "when I was younger, I used to sit and watch the seniors and be like, 'Oh, I'll never get to that.' But now I'm here," she said with a touch of incredulity. "I never expected to get to this level."
That could be part of why the pair are so calm in spite of their accomplishments, in spite of the knowledge that as of their last big competition, they are the ones to beat.
"We're excited to be competing," Upcott said. "Obviously, with the titles we h ave behind us, there's a lot of pressure, but we know we've got to go out and do our best."
The World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships get underway Thurday in Levallois with qualifications in all categories. For more, please check out the competition microsite here.
|10/07/2014 12/07/2014||24th Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships 2014||LEVALLOIS (FRA)||ACRO|