Nine-year-old hopes to follow in hero Max Whitlock’s footsteps
A super-agile young gymnast set to swing into action at national championships has already set his sights on the Olympics – at the tender age of nine.
Henry Hotchkiss will represent the West Midlands in the nationals for his age group at the start of November.
The youngster has already been honing his amazing skills for six years – and harbours ambitions to reach the top of his sport.
Uttoxeter schoolboy Henry says he hopes to follow in the footsteps of idol and five-times British Olympic medallist Max Whitlock.
He said: “I qualified for the squad after a tournament in Essex and it felt really good to be picked. I came seventh in the whole country, which made my family really proud.
“To compete in the nationals is brilliant, but I think my mum’s probably more nervous than I am. I just tend to enjoy it and don’t feel too many nerves. Having said that, I’d love to one day compete in the Olympics.”
Henry’s parents, solicitor Sarah and woodworker Tom – who runs Hotchkiss Oak Furniture, in Tutbury – take him to classes at Uttoxeter Gym Club, in Town Meadows Way.
The Foston lad, who also lives with 11-year-old big sister Sophie, has made plenty of new friends there while enjoying his sport.
He said: “I love gymnastics, but also the social side of things there. It’s brilliant and they’ve taught me a lot. I haven’t always been naturally flexible and have had to do a lot of conditioning work to get to where I am.
“And sometimes it’s been a bit scary learning new skills, but is so satisfying when you’ve got them. I particularly love the parallel bars and rings.”
Henry’s big break came at the London Development Open, where he vaulted his way to a seventh-place finish.
He excelled in his pommel, high bar, rings, vault and parallel bar performances, helping him secure a place in the West Midlands squad.
However, the Denstone College Prep School pupil feels he could have finished even higher in the rankings.
He said: “I messed up on my floor routine and lost two marks and it was so close between the places. Having said that, I was really chuffed with how it went for me. Now I can’t wait to compete in the nationals”.