James Hall battles through pain barrier to snatch Commonwealth silver
If you were making a list of the worst sports to play while on one leg, gymnastics would rank close to the top.
That was the position James Hall found himself in when he misjudged his landing on the vault midway through the all-around final at Birmingham 2022, leaving him with two more rotations to complete and yet unable to walk because of a serious ankle injury.
Most people would have thrown in the towel, but the 26-year-old from Maidstone gritted his teeth and fought through the pain – with the help of the crowd – to take silver behind compatriot Jake Jarman.
He explained: “I’ve always had trouble with my ankles but last week in training I had a bit of a bad landing on my ankle in vault. Nothing too bad but I didn’t do floor for a few days. I got back on it and it was absolutely fine. A bit sore but heavily strapped. Then today, I don’t know what it was, I went to vault and landed a bit deep and it was agony.
“I’ve really got Jake to thank, my coach and the crowd as well because everyone kept me going. My coach said you can stop at any time, but there was no way I could stop and I’m glad I didn’t.
“I can’t ask for anything else, silver, I’ll take that, Jake really deserved gold.
“I was wincing with the crowd. It was great, the crowd was willing me on. I’ve never heard anything like that.”
The most dependable member of the British gymnastics set-up, Hall is very much a team man who came in as one of the favourites for a first individual gold at a major competition.
The injury effectively ended that quest, but he showed remarkable courage on his final dismount from the high bar to secure the silver behind the 20-year-old Jarman – the pair having combined to take gold in the team event on Friday.
Describing his feelings ahead of the final dismount, he said: “I was just thinking ‘Oh god, oh god, oh god’. Then it was a case of get to your feet, the comp is finished. I know it hurt a lot but I enjoyed it, it was a special atmosphere. I thought we couldn’t top Friday and the team final but it was just as good, it was absolutely incredible.
“I remember (double Olympic champion) Max Whitlock told me about London 2012 where he stepped onto the floor and the noise from the arena couldn’t get any louder. It was like that for, it was the exact same. I think the crowd knew I was hurting and they just wanted to lift me and it worked.”
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