My dream to run off with the circus

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A St Helens gymnast who was crowned world tumbling champion in her last ever competition has now set her sights on a “dream” career with Cirque du Soleil.

Rachael Letsche, of Sutton Leach, incredibly leapt from eighth in qualification to snatch the gold medal from China’s Chen Lingxi in Daytona, Florida.

Now though, the 23-year-old is targeting a career with the world famous circus act.

She said: “I’m hoping to be successful enough now to secure a part in Cirque du Soleil. That would be my dream job.

“I’m already used to all the travelling around - it’s something I enjoy - and I think it would be a nice, glamorous thing to go into.

“The videos have been sent off now so it’s just a matter of waiting to see if any positions for my type of discipline become available.”

The former Sutton High pupil, currently a student at St Helens College, produced the performance of a lifetime to claim the women’s world tumbling championships in November.

She was subsequently invited to the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards in Glasgow, which she described as “a great experience”.

Rachael was also voted Sky Sports’ woman of the month.

She said: “My main aim had been to get to the final, so to win it was beyond my wildest dreams. After qualifying in eighth place I didn’t think I’d even be able to get onto the podium.

“Things just clicked for me in the final and I managed to put together two clean passes. Luckily I came out with a strong first run and the second pass was quite simple.

“I was a bit emotional once I’d finished because I knew it was my last ever competition. But then, when I won, they turned into happy tears.”

Rachael started out as a rhythmic gymnast when she was just five years old.

But she then switched her attention to tumbling - a breathtaking form of gymnastics in which competitors must link together a lightning-fast string of somersaults, twists and flips - when she was 12.

She told how she would miss the camaraderie of being part of the British Gymnastics “family” and travelling all over the world to compete.

But she will continue to give back to gymnastics as a tumbling coach at Warrington Gymnastics Club.

She added: “The adrenaline buzz you get at the start of a run in a big competition is like nothing else. I loved performing in front of big crowds too - tumbling is such a fast and exciting discipline to watch.

“There’s lots of things I’ll miss about competing but it was time for me to move on and start a career.

“It was just so satisfying to end on a high. That was all I wanted to do.”