A GYMNAST from South Essex is aiming to make history of his own as he heads out to Japan for his first World Championships.

Hayden Skinner, who trains at South Essex Gymnastics Club in Basildon alongside three-time Olympic champion and multiple world medallist Max Whitlock MBE, is one of three debutants that were named in the British team last month and is hoping to impress on the world stage.

And it is the atmosphere at South Essex that has played a huge part in getting Skinner to this point in his career.

Speaking about the club to British Gymnastics before flying out to Kitakyushu where the Championships will take place, Skinner said: “There’s so many of us at the club, and it’s such a big team, that we all bounce off each other and push each other.

“With the coaching we have there as well, I think that’s the reason why we’re a successful club. Because of that, there is the expectation on you to do well, and I’m just trying to keep that going.”

Skinner, 21, has been in the British squad since turning senior three years ago.

His development has seen him medal at three separate World Cup events, where he has showcased his skill particularly on floor, his favourite apparatus.

Training alongside the likes of Whitlock MBE and 2016 Rio Olympian Brinn Bevan has provided all the motivation he’s needed over the years.

“I’ve always enjoyed the floor, but when I was younger, I looked up to Max and the other boys in the gym," said Skinner, a former Deanes School pupil. 

"Watching them and training with them has really pushed me to get to the level they’re at. Being around them has definitely helped me get to where I am.”

In gymnastics terms it’s been an unprecedented year. Very rarely to the Olympic Games and the World Championships take place in the same 12 months. With that being the case, it has provided an opportunity for several gymnasts, Skinner included, to shine on the biggest stage.

“I’ve been looking to go to this competition since the beginning of the year, doing all the trials, and other competitions like the World Cups. I’ve been using them to build towards this, so it just feels like a relief to be going and I’m really excited,” Skinner added.

“Preparations are going really well, so hopefully I keep it going up until the competition. My main aim at every competition is just to go and do my job, do my routines, and then if any results come from that, then it’s a bonus.

But if I can go and do my job, I’ll be happy.”

The competition takes place from 18th-24th October.

Four of the nine gymnasts in the British squad from South Essex with Skinner and Bevan joined by four-time European medallist Courtney Tulloch and 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Georgia-Mae Fenton.