Craig Heap

YST Craig Heap

Sport: Gymnastics

Twitter: @craigdavidheap

How did you get into sport?

My sister did gymnastics at the local leisure centre in Burnley and one day my mum dragged me along to watch her. I was unsure about joining a gymnastics club mainly full of girls, so my career started at home diving around the furniture until one day my mum had enough of me doing this and sent me to the gym to burn off all my excess energy.

What was the biggest challenge you overcame?

There were a lot of times when I considered quitting. After failing to qualify for consecutive Commonwealth and Olympic Games, my confidence took a blow, but this only made me more determined to succeed. Thirteen operations throughout my career also failed to stop me persevering, and succeeding, in my sport.

What are your three biggest achievements in sport?

  • Personal Best score in the All Around Final at the 2000 Olympic Games
  • Captaining the men's England Gymnastics team to their First ever Team gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games
  • Captaining the men's England Gymnastics team to Team Gold in the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Who most inspired you and why?

I think my mum has inspired me the most to follow my dreams whatever they are. Her ambition as a young girl was to become a tennis player and her parents thought this was a stupid thing to want and do, especially being from a small village where no one had ever excelled at tennis before. My mum always told me to dream big me and live life with no regrets. 

When and why did you get involved with the Athlete Mentor programme?

I started being involved on the Athlete Mentor programme after being part of the UK School Games where I was a mentor for the Gymnastics competition. I really enjoyed sharing my experiences with the young gymnasts and being able to help them improve. From this event I applied to be part of the Athlete Mentor team - working in schools for over the past ten years for them has been one of the highlights of my life. Being able to meet, inspire and hopefully motivate young people to be a better version of themselves and thinking about being the best they can be, their "Personal Best".

What has been your favourite moment as a YST Athlete Mentor?

I have so many favourite moments, but I think when you get a letter or tweet from them saying how you have them made them think about life differently and to really work hard to achieve their dreams is just brilliant.