Sam Oldham: Superstar of Gymnastics
25th January 2019
We caught up with Olympian gymnast Sam Oldham to talk all things style, fitness (and chicken nuggets!)
Let’s start with a classic introduction – what’s your sporting profession, and what’s your story and road to becoming this?
My name is Sam Oldham, I’m 25 years old and I am a full time mens gymnast. I was super hyperactive as a child and it was a school teacher that suggested to my mum that she should take me along to the local gym club. I fell in love with gymnastics straight away and 19 years down the line I still get the same buzz when I’m flying through the air.
You’ve had amazing success and involvement at The Olympics – can you explain what it’s like to be a part of, and any iconic stories you have?
The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of gymnastics and It’s what every athlete strives for in my sport. The dream for me started at the age of 12 when Great Britain and London won the bid to host the 2012 Games. I vividly remember thinking “right I have seven years to work as hard as I can to be part of that team.” It definitely wasn’t a smooth journey but making that team is still one of my proudest achievements. We were the first British mens gymnastics team to qualify for the team final in 20 years. On a historic Saturday night in the London o2 arena we managed to win Britain’s first medal in mens gymnastics for a century. At 19 years old I was the baby on the team and the new kid on the scene. I have fond memories of meeting the likes of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and even the Queen following our bronze medal. Most of all I remember the time spent with my team mates and the experiences we shared during that amazing time in my life. It’s true that in the Olympic Village there is a free McDonalds and one day after we had finished competing I ordered a double cheese burger, strawberry milkshake, fries and 200 chicken nuggets! In some ways London 2012 feels like a lifetime ago. My dream now is to qualify for the Tokyo games in 2020 and do my best to win one more Olympic medal.
In perhaps one of the most competitive and challenging sports out there, how do you define success that’s not just fixated on medals?
Success for me in gymnastics is performing to my full potential which is something I have only done a handful of times in my 19 year career. Timing is everything in gymnastics and I’m aiming to get this just right in the lead up to Tokyo. Making sure I enjoy the process is really important for me as I approach the latter stages of my journey. The medals are amazing but in the end they will only gather dust. It’s the memories with the people around me that will last for my lifetime. I’ve seen a lot of athletes leave a sport and almost resent it. If I can leave gymnastics and still love the sport that will be huge success for me.
What does fitness mean to you?
Fitness has been my whole life! From what time I go to bed, what I eat and how I spend my free time all revolves around my training. Sport is like a drug. It’s great for the soul and gives you a massive high. I believe I will stay fit long after gymnastics as I’ve seen the positive impact it can have on your physical and mental health. The aim of the game for me is to be as strong a possible whilst at the same time being as light as possible. My overall fitness gives me an advantage over my competitors and that’s why I do lots of different kinds of training.
You endured an awful sporting injury a few years ago, but have come back even stronger – what new outlook, approach and goals do you have second time around?
The ankle injury I suffered at the 2014 Commonwealth Games was a huge challenge for me to overcome physically. I dislocated and completely ruptured my medial and lateral ankle ligaments and I underwent reconstructive ligament surgery. I was initially told that my career could be over as the injury was incredibly serious. Fortunately, I had the best surgeon in the country and an incredible medical team that took on the huge task of getting back to gymnastics. I have a much different outlook now compared to the first time around. Gymnastics will always be important to me but my morals, values and what I stand for far out way. As a youngster I used to carry the pressure of my coach, family and expectation around with me whenever I competed. Now I’m just doing gymnastics for me and as long as the people closest to me think I’m a good guy that’s all that matters. In terms of my actual gymnastics results, the only opinion I worry about is my own. I’m going into the next 18 months with a nothing to lose and everything to gain attitude and It’s a great position to be in.
You’ve collaborated with Superdry for a year now – can you talk the readers through the projects so far?
I’ve collaborated with Superdry for a year now and have enjoyed every minute of it. For me it’s a perfect fit and my personality matches up with the brand really well. The most important thing to me though is that the sports clothing is really good. I struggle with finding clothing that fits my unique frame and the T-Shirts in particular help with my shoulder pain. Because of the nature of my sport my shoulders sit forwards and I struggle with impingements. the Superdry sport T-Shirts are very light and looser around the shoulder which makes training on the rings and High Bar much easier for me. Novemeber of last year I travelled out to Germany to compete in the Bundas League which was supported by Superdry. It was my first competition back competing on all six events following an injury back in March 2018. You can watch the vlog of my trip and competition out in Germany on my YouTube channel.
How would you sum up your personal style outside of the gymnasium?
I’d sum up my style outside of the gym as a mix between athlete leisure and classic. I’m a huge sneaker head and have over 50 pairs of trainers! However I love to dress up smart over the weekend as it’s my chance to get out of the chalky gym clothes. I like to go and watch my local football club Nottingham Forest. Right now it’s pretty cold in the stands so I layer up with a Superdry hoodie, a puffa coat and some chelsea boots.
You’re one of the billboard faces of the upcoming Superstars of Gymnastics even at London’s 02 in March – what can we expect from it!?
The Superstars of Gymnastics is going to be a really monumental occasion. Never before has there been a competition where all the best gymnastics in the world are going to compete under one roof. I honestly still can’t quite believe that it’s happening! I used to dream of this kind of event as a young kid. There will be no rules so the athletes can design their own routines with the crowd in mind. I’m using it as a stepping stone towards Tokyo and putting myself under the bright lights and thousands of gymnastics fans. Expect the most exciting gymnastics and some things you may have never seen before in the sport!
Give us five reasons why gymnastics is the most exciting sport out there to watch!
Gymnastics is the ultimate challenge, you have to master the whole body from your toes to the top of your head!
It’s the closest you will ever get to flying.
Gymnastics done beautifully is pure art.
In a split second you can fall and it’s all over. It’s the greatest test of someone’s ability to control their mind and emotions under extreme pressure!
Right now the athletes are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for the human body!
What else is on the horizon for Sam Oldham?
I’ve got some really exciting projects coming up with Superdry in the next few months so keep an eye out! My latest YouTube episode is live now, so if you want to follow my journey towards Tokyo 2020 you can subscribe to my channel HERE!