By Anna Rose Johnson
Fourteen-year-old twins Jennifer and Jessica Gadirova are currently two of the top juniors in the world. Representing GBR at the recent Junior World Championships, the Gadirova sisters hail from Azerbaijan and have lived in England from a very young age. With fantastic style and execution, both gymnasts have achieved noteworthy results this season: Jennifer won the vault silver at Junior Worlds, while Jessica won the all-around bronze at the 2019 Flanders International. “The girls’ willingness to work hard and their commitment is second to none,” says Joshua Richardson, one of their coaches at Aylesbury Gymnastics Academy. “They have a fantastic natural ability to dance and express themselves, which is very rare.” We recently caught up with the talented Gadirova sisters to chat about Junior Worlds, their gymnastics role model, upgrades, and more!
Photos courtesy of Joshua Richardson
Inside Gymnastics: What is it like to train alongside your twin sister?
Jennifer Gadirova: It is so nice to always have someone by my side to help me and push me to be my best. We are so close [and] yet so competitive, and don’t know what I would do without her. She is my best friend and person in the world.
Jessica Gadirova: It’s so nice [to] have someone to train with [who is] the same age as you, and I’m just so lucky to have a twin sister who is an amazing gymnast and [that I] get on with so well.
Inside: Could you tell us about your experiences at Junior Worlds?
Jennifer: It was unbelievable. We just came there to gain so much experience, but coming home with a silver medal made it ten times better, and also coming [in the] top ten [and making] three finals.
Jessica: It was such an incredible experience even though it wasn’t my best competition, as I had a few uncharacteristic errors. Meeting people from all around the world and seeing what everyone else was doing was very interesting.
Inside: What was it like to compete at such a major competition?
Jennifer: It was a dream come true, I always wanted be part of the GBR team at [a] big competition like that, and for it to [happen] was incredible and I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of my coaches and the club. [They] help me so much, I wouldn’t have been there without them; they were the ones that got me there. It is also a great opportunity for young gymnasts to be out on a big stage so that they are not scared once they make it to the senior stage.
Jessica: It was such an amazing opportunity to compete at a major competition and be one of the first juniors in GBR to compete at the first Junior World Championships. I will never, ever forget the experience.
Inside: Name your favorite moments from Junior Worlds!
Jennifer: My favorite moment was winning the silver medal on vault. Having the lowest difficulty, I would’ve never thought I would end up second, but you can never say never and dreams can become a reality. Also just being out there doing my routines was just amazing.
Jessica: Seeing my twin sister win her silver medal on vault.
Inside: Did you get a chance to meet any other athletes at Worlds?
Jennifer: Yes, I met so many other athletes, it was so nice to see what other people are doing around the world and seeing how they feel being in [the] World Championships.
Jessica: Yes, I got to meet some of the other athletes and go round with some amazing gymnasts as well. We had lots of pictures taken at the banquet with all different gymnasts from around the world.
Inside: Are you working on any upgrades or fun skills?
Jennifer: At the moment I have just put my double straight out for the second time at a competition, and [that has] gone really well. Also another big skill I have been working is my double-twisting double back on floor. I have got it to a few mats but it hasn’t been ready for the floor just yet. Hopefully I can have it soon.
Jessica: I’m working on my double-twisting yurchenko. I got to put it out on podium at Worlds, but it just wasn’t consistent enough to risk putting it out in competition.
Inside: What are your favorite apparatuses?
Jennifer: My favorite apparatus has to be floor and vault, because they are my strongest pieces and I love them so much. I just love how powerful vault is and I love to express myself so much and floor allows me to do that.
Jessica: My favorite piece is floor, because it’s the piece where I can express myself through my dance and do big tumbles as well.
Inside: What are your short-term and long-term gymnastics goals?
Jennifer: My short-term goals [are] to make the GBR senior squad next year, and for the long-term I would love to make another World Championships or the Olympics.
Jessica: Short-term: make Senior GBR team and start competing my double-twisting yurchenko at my next competition. Long-term: make a major competition at [the] senior level.
Inside: Who are some of your gymnastics role models?
Jennifer: My gymnastics role model has to be Simone Biles because she is so amazing and has done things no other gymnast would be able to do ever in their career. Also, [she is so] powerful, [and that] drives me just to be like her.
Jessica: Simone Biles is one of my role models because of her background and how she became an amazing [gymnast].
Inside: What are your favorite competition memories?
Jennifer: My favorite competition memory is becoming the 2019 British Floor champion and becoming a silver medalist at the first-ever Junior World Championships, and the fact that not everyone can say they have been a medalist at the first World Championships makes it even more special than it already is.
Jessica: My favorite one is when I [finished] third all-around in the Flanders competition which was in Belgium three weeks ago, and lots of European countries were competing, including Romania. [It] was my first time competing for GBR, and was my first time ever leaving the UK.
Inside: Do you have a favorite place to travel?
Jennifer: As it was my first time being on a plane for the Junior World Championships and [my] second country to compete in, I don’t have a favorite place yet. But I would love to have one soon, even though Belgium and Hungary were still so beautiful and interesting. I [enjoyed] traveling to Belgium on a train.
Jessica: So far it is Hungary, because I got to compete at the Junior World Championships there. It was also very beautiful country to be in, and I got to enjoy it with my friends and my coach, Josh Richardson, who also has a sister who is his coach partner, and it was my first time flying on a plane.
Inside: What are your favorite books and movies?
Jennifer: Because I am at the gym so much, I am unable to read as much as I would like to, but in my spare time I do love a good movie and my favorite movies have to be an action movie like “The Avengers.”
Jessica: My favorite movies are Marvel movies, because they [are] so cool to watch and it’s so intriguing watching them do all their stunts like gymnastics.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Jennifer: I would just like to thank my coaches Molly Mae Richardson and Joshua Richardson and my club Aylesbury Gymnastics Academy, because they put so much time and effort in helping me to be where I am today. [It’s] big and little things that they do for me and my sister that…I appreciate so much. I wouldn’t want to be at any other club and have any other coaches in the world.
Jessica: I’d just like to say a big thank you to my coaches, Josh Richardson and Molly Richardson, for always being there for me and my sister, and always helping us become better gymnasts in and outside the gym.
Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com