Sheffield gymnast reveals plans for RAF career ahead of upcoming trampoline competition

Lucy Horan has dreams of a career in the RAF but won't be giving up her beloved sport
Lucy Horan has dreams of a career in the RAF but won't be giving up her beloved sport

A gymnast from Sheffield is moving one step closer to her dreams of joining the RAF, but hopes she won’t have to give up the sport she loves in the process.

Lucy Horan, aged 17, of Norton, returned to the trampoline last month, two years after a debilitating accident which could have taken her away from the sport for good. 

Lucy says being on the trampoline 'feels like you're flying'

Lucy says being on the trampoline 'feels like you're flying'

Amazingly, she went on to finish third in her age group at the 2018 English Trampolining Championships, held at the English Institute of Sport in October, and is now looking forward to competing for her school at the Yorkshire Regional Trampoline Competition next month. 

The Sheffield Girls High pupil also has her sights set on the future, having completed an application for the role as a personal training instructor for the RAF.

“In the RAF you go in to do work that you love straight away and that really appeals to me,” she said. “Obviously you get paid for it, but mostly it’s about the sense of belonging.”

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Lucy Horan returned to trampolining in October, two years after breaking her neck whilst training

Lucy Horan returned to trampolining in October, two years after breaking her neck whilst training

She has been told that, due to her high level experience, she could receive a paid role, but will also have the opportunity to be sent for further training, and is currently waiting to take part in a medical test. 

However, she says she doesn’t want to give up trampolining and will carry it on for as long as she can. 

She said: “I wanted to keep it up, rather than go to University. I’ve done the Airman Selection Test to see what roles I could do, and I’ve had my selection interview. I’ve also had to sign a DBS check because I’ll be teaching under 16s. I’m just waiting on my medical test on Thursday. 

“I’ll still try to compete if I can because I love the sport.”

Lucy, who has competed both nationally and internationally, began trampolining age eight having taken up gymnastics three years earlier.

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She said: “I took up trampolining because the training was coincidentally held at my mum’s work. This sounds really childish but I knew I could do the gymnastics moves on the floor, and when I saw other people trampolining I thought it was just like gymnastics in the air!

“I was always a very active child and I’ve always loved sport in general, so my mum encouraged me to go and do it. My favourite thing about it is feeling as though you’re flying. It started as just a hobby that turned more competitive later on.”

She began age nine, and has never looked back, visiting countries such as Bulgaria, Florida and Spain to represent Great Britain. 

However, disaster struck when she broke her neck during a training session.

“The week before the 2016 British Championships, I was doing my routine during training in Leeds,” she said. “I got to the third movement and lost my sighting as I went round, so I came down heavily on my neck and shoulders and got pins and needles all the way through my body.

“I laid there and told my coach at the time about the pins and needles but he told me, “’It’s just the shock, you’ll be fine’ and gave me five minutes.

“I got up and acted like everything was OK but when it was time to go home, I got to the car park and collapsed. I was paralysed for just over 40 minutes.”

She later underwent a six-and-a-half hour operation, and took a year out to recover.

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She added: “It’s like that saying, ‘If you fall off your horse, get back on it’ - I fell off my trampoline, and all I wanted to do was get back on it! While I was recovering, I was determined to show the doctors I could still do trampolining, it is my absolute passion and I couldn’t imagine not being able to do it.”

Now, having bounced back, she is juggling studying for her final year at A-level, and trampoline training five days a week, something she says can be ‘very stressful’ at times.

However, she says she always prioritises schoolwork, and will complete work in free periods, allowing time for training. 

Lucy will be competing for Sheffield Girls’ at the Yorkshire Regional Trampoline Competition on December 1, and hopes to continue working to reach her peak performance.