Rachael enjoys golden swansong

Rachael Letsche.
Rachael Letsche.

Not many sportspeople get to finish their careers on an almighty high.

But that’s exactly what top gymnast Rachael Letsche did when she was crowned the women’s world tumbling champion in Daytona Florida - in her last ever competition.

The 23-year-old, from Sutton Leach, incredibly leapt from eighth in qualification to snatch the gold medal from China’s Chen Lingxi.

She impressed the judges with scores of 33.800 and 33.700 in her final routines to finish 0.200 points ahead of her nearest rival.

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

The former Sutton High pupil, now a student at St Helens College, 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 and leaves the competitive side of the sport with many happy memories.

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.”