JLife speaks to up-and-coming young gymnast, Joey Rosenberg ahead of the Trampoline and Tumbling NDP Finals.
Joey Rosenberg sparked his passion for gymnastics only three years ago, yet the 12 year-old The Grammar School at Leeds pupil is already making waves in the sport. Having recently qualified in the top eight of the regional Trampoline and Tumbling National Development Plan (NDP) Finals, Joey is through to the national finals at the Ricoh Arena. However, an unfortunate fall only days before the competition has put his ability to compete in serious doubt.
“We’ve been to the hospital today, he’s had an x-ray and they put a full-on cast on him,” Joey’s mother, Melissa told us. “We thought he’d broken his arm, but at the moment it looks to be a severe sprain.
“We’re still in debate about whether he’s going to compete. It just depends on the diagnosis and whether he can take the cast off. We’ll find out tomorrow, but we’re still planning life like he’s going to the finals.”
Joey regularly competes on a regional and national level with the junior squad at Leeds Rebound Gymnastics Club in Holbeck, an achievement that makes Melissa feel like one proud mum: “I’m chuffed to see Joey competing and doing so well. It scares you to death when you see him flip backwards and you’re hoping he lands it – but at the same time, it’s a real sense of achievement watching your baby do that.”
While it’s common to see eager parents push their children into competitive sport as a way of vicariously pursuing their passions, Joey’s love for gymnastics has been entirely self-motivated.
“Joey and his friends tried trampolining at a summer camp and they really liked it and decided to do it once a week. The trainers there told them they had potential and asked them if they’d like to join the squad, and it just went from there.”
“It was all completely off his own back. But even though I love watching gymnastics, I’ve certainly never been as agile as Joey! I’ve never pushed him – it’s all been very self-driven and I think that’s the key to success.”
It takes a lot of support, not least with the amount of taxiing involved, to help Joey to get to where he is now. The financial aspect alone is enough to put many parents off encouraging their children to take up high-level pursuits: “Let me tell you, those leotards don’t come cheap!”
Yet for Melissa, there is always the fear that Joey’s passion for gymnastics might overshadow his school work as he heads towards a crucial time in his academic life: “That is a concern, but right now he’s really driven, and doesn’t let it interfere with his school life. When he reaches 16, if he wants to go into gymnastics full-time, we’d absolutely support him, whatever he wants to do. We’ll give him the best possible start, but when it comes down it – it will be his decision to make.”
Joey now specialises in trampoline gymnastics, where he performs acrobatics on Olympic sized trampolines. When asked how an Olympic trampoline differs from a regular trampoline, Joey assured us: “they are the same size, just really bouncy.”
“I do backflips, somersaults, doubles flips. I also used to do Double Mini Trampoline (DMT). It’s basically a really long trampoline and you have run up, jump off and do a dismount.” Questions of whether he finds these gravity-defying feats scary are swiftly batted away, but he admits to getting butterflies before big events.
“Normally I compete at arenas, with a lot of people watching me. I do get nervous, but I just forget about everyone watching. I’m kind of used to it now, so I just forget about everyone else and just think back to my training.”
Joey has a demanding training schedule, attending four sessions a week at his local club: “On the weekend I do six hours and on school nights I do two – so I’ve got 14 altogether. Asked if he’d rather be spending his free time playing video games like many of his fellow schoolmates, he replies: “No, not really, I haven’t got time. I used to train 24 hours a week, but I can’t do as much anymore because I’m in senior school and it’s harder and there’s way more homework.”
Joey’s favourite academic subjects are maths and history, but when given the choice between pursuing a future career as a mathematician or a gymnast, there’s little hesitation: “I’d rather be a gymnast – 100%.”
While most kids will be relaxing over the upcoming summer holidays, Joey has no plans to depart from his strict training regime: “I’ve got no breaks I’ve just got to train.”
Asked which of his parents he inherited his sporting talents from, he replies: “None of them! My mum’s the taxi driver and I just do the rest myself.”
Joey watched the British squad with interest at the 2018 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, drawing great inspiration from the nation’s medal-winning performances.
“Bryony Page is my favourite athlete, because she was the first British trampolinist to win an Olympic medal when she won silver last year. That’s where I want to be in a few years’ time. I think it’s going to be hard, and we’ll have to wait and see, but hopefully I’ll get there.” And we expect very few who speak to the driven young man would put it past him.
“Trampolining is really fun, but I have to work hard for it. I enjoy it because it’s difficult, so it gives me a challenge. You also have to be pretty fit, so I do a lot of sports like golf, rugby and a bit of football.”
Despite suffering this recent setback, Joey isn’t prepared to let his injury stop him from getting where he wants to be: “I really hurt my arm, so I’m think I’m going to be out for a bit. But I’m still going to go to the gym and condition, so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to where I was.”
Looking at the road ahead, Joey has his sights firmly set on gold: “Right now I want to win the NDP. I want to win it for my great-grandma because there’s a party that day and I want to make her proud.”