Bryony Page delighted with second Olympic medal on the bounce after injury woes
By Mark Staniforth, PA Olympics Correspondent
Armed with her trusty dinosaur lunchbox, Bryony Page strode out onto the Ariake Arena floor in Tokyo and claimed her second Olympic trampoline medal on the bounce.
Bronze for the former paleontology student added to the surprise silver she had won in Rio in 2016 and, after a cycle in which she was forced to fight back from consecutive career-threatening ankle surgeries, gave her plenty to roar about.
“I can’t believe I’ve got a second Olympic medal,” said Page. “The day went painfully slow and painfully quick at the same time.
“At the start of the cycle I chose to have surgery on my ankle to fix an issue I’d been struggling with for a few years – the first surgery didn’t solve the injury so I had to go in again and I was out for two years.
“My second surgery caused a bit of nerve damage and that put some doubt in my mind about whether I could get back on the trampoline.
“I might not have shown my very best today but it was the best I could have done.”
The 30-year-old qualified in third place for the final after the opening two qualification routines, between Chinese pair Zhu Xueying and Liu Lingling.
She ranked third after the opening, compulsory element, but her score of 55.810 ranked first in the voluntary section, eclipsing even those of her Chinese rivals.
Page delivered again in the final, out-scoring Rosannagh Maclennan of Canada despite a routine that scored lower than in her heat, and which by her own admission was far from perfect.
The dinosaur lunchbox, which Page takes with her to every event as a good luck charm, worked its magic again, and the way in which she managed to overcome a different kind of adversity in this cycle made her bronze feel equally special.
“Rio felt like a really hard cycle and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to make to the Olympics,” added Page.
“There was a point where I didn’t know if I could continue trampolining based on how I was feeling.
“So that medal will always have a special place in my heart, and this one is slightly different because of coming back from injury. Getting a second Olympic medal and dealing with the pressures that I’ve felt, it’s just a different feeling. It’s like having to choose a favourite child.”
Zhu and Liu duly followed and knocked Page down to bronze, but the appropriately high leap with which Page greeted confirmation of her return to the Olympic podium illustrated just how much she coveted her achievement after another difficult Games cycle.
“I feel the strongest I ever have,” Page added. “I need to work on my mental strength because I’d have liked that confidence throughout the day, rather than to build it through the competition.”
Page will have another gift in store when she returns home with her Olympic medal. Since her early teens she has struck a bet with her father Steve that each time she successfully adds another point to her starting difficulty, he is required to buy her a new leotard.
“My dad owes me a new leotard based on a bet we made when I was 12,” added Page. “Every time I go up a tariff point I get a leotard, so I’m really happy about that too.”