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Athlete of the Month - British Gymnast - Dominick Cunningham

Dominick Cunningham (article heading photo credit), has been working alongside YSN since 2017.  He's an exceptional tallent, who has recently been selected for the Commonwealth Games, taking place in Australia later this year.
We caught up with Dominick, to dig into the ethos, tactics and techniques of a rising youth Gymnast.
Photo credit, @DomCunn Instagram.
How did you get into your first sport, and how old were you?
I started gymnastics at the age of 5. My mom and dad said I was jumping of things that they were scared i was going to hurt myself so they put me into a gymnastics club to loose some energy and to jump and climb things. 
Did you have any key idols or role models that you looked up to and wanted to replicate, and if so, why?
I trained with a gymnast called Kristian Thomas he was a Great British gymnast and he was the dad of the team. He was the captain, he was always one to rely on when it was needed the most. That is the type of role as a gymnast I would love to create for myself.
How do you cater for your sports nutrition? What sort of meal plans/nutritional strategies did you utilise? 
With gymnastics its very weight orientated because if I am trying to hold myself in a crucifix on rings i don’t want an extra few kilos. To do this i have to focus on low carbs and high protein to repair my muscles but managing carbohydrates is very tricky. However i cater my nutrition very well by eating consistently and making sure i get all my correct nutrients and fuels correct.
Let downs and injury are a common feature of being a professional athlete, can you tell us how you motivate yourself and what keeps you going through major incidents or tough circumstances? 
I have had many injuries as a gymnast. My most recent one being a dislocated finger and  ruptured ligament on my index finger, this was just before christmas, Before all my commonwealth games trials. i motivated myself by knowing how big this opportunity is and managed my loading correctly to get my finger strong again. In sport we have lots of set backs and the circumstances get very tough! Last year messed me Worlds trial up and was ready to give up. I knew that that person talking wasn’t me I ha a rest from gymnastics to go travel and refresh my mind. I came back with a clear mind and body repaired. I motivated myself in a way that everybody noticed. I told myself this is my make or break year so put everything out there for everyone to notice the change. That is exactly what i did and i have made lots of competitions one being the Commonwealth Games!
What advice would you offer to youth athletes facing similar obstacles? What tools, tactics or strategies do you use to combat adversity? Any recommendations? 
In sport nothing comes easy! You can’t always be given everything on a plate you have to battle through the tough times to make hard days feel easy! injuries come and go they’re part of every athletes life. I would make sure you have a balance of a healthy lifestyle so you don’t get caught up in the same routine which I have been through and makes training even harder.
Photo credit, @DomCunn Instagram.
As a very successful youth athlete, how often do you train, and how has this changed depending on your sport?
So at the age of 5 i probably did around 3 hours  a week and then it slowly started to increase. At the age of 12 i think i was pushing around 20+ hours a week including school and when i finished school i now do around 30+ hours a week at times!
How do you stay healthy? Any Nutrition Tips?
I stay healthy by always making sure my nutrition is on point i will always prep for the next day and i will know what i am having. Also after sessions or during i will have a PROTEEN shake to make sure my muscles are fully recovering and they get protein in them for the journey home for my main meal. i eat lots of fruit and veg, also I’ve increased my nuts and seeds intake which has benefitted a lot!
Photo credit, @DomCunn Instagram. 
What does it feel like to win competitions? Describe the emotion and senses involved during and afterwards. 
Me as a person i don’t focus on  winning competitions i have to do 6 apparatus and within those routines anything can happen. Although hitting a competition like you do in training my emotions are mainly adrenaline knowing that we have worked over 12 weeks for a competition that falls onto one day! the emotion is crazy i feel so happy seeing everyones faces who have helped me to then telling people how i got on its always a bonus to win. After the competition its time to focus again ready for the next competition because like I’ve said anything can happen and you can’t get too complacent.
What are your future aspirations?
My near future consists of a British Championship at the echo arena then its the world cup in Birmingham at the NIA. Then its the Commonwealth Games in Australia. My ultimate goals are to make the, World championships, European Championships and the Olympic Games. I am looking for a long career ahead!
What is your favorite quote?
My favourite quote is something I tell children at my schools visits which is.
Perseverance, nothing ever happens over night you have to keep trying no matter what is, Sport, School, Exams, Driving. Don’t give up!
Who is your favorite athlete or sportsperson and why?
My favourite sports person is Arnold Schwarzenegger because growing up he was always told he wouldn’t be able to fit roles because of what he had done to his body, he proved them wrong, he had adapted to what he needed to do and in gymnastics changes are always needed because we have lots of different routines to create and adaptions is essential and this i can relate to him being told he can’t do things and then proved people wrong!

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with us if you would like to share your story and help others to get in to sport. Help us in our mission to spread the word around the importance of correct nutrition for young athletes in top level sport.

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