British sisters make the switch to Jamaica gymnastics
FORMER GREAT Britain gymnastics prodigy Tyesha Mattis and her sister China are both in Jamaica completing a naturalisation process with a view to turning out for Jamaica.
Mattis has had an injury-plagued career since becoming a senior in 2014 but has decided to make another comeback, this time under the Jamaican flag.
Born in London, England, to Jamaican parents, Tyesha and China have represented England and Britain throughout their youth careers, with Tyesha even been hailed as one of the most exciting juniors to come through the British age group ranks. The accolade came even as she was competing in one of the strongest groups of juniors in the country’s history, inclusive of names like Ellie Downie, Amy Tinkler, Catherine Lyons, and Teal Grindle.
Tyesha, has won gold medals at numerous national and international competitions from 2008 to 2014 but stepped away from the sport in 2018 after sustaining a string of injuries.
However, she was constantly pushed by her mom, Charmaine Clarke, to return to the sport, and when Jamaica Gymnastics Association (JGA) president Nicole Grant-Brown reached out to Clarke, the former gymnast and coach jumped at the opportunity to have her girls represent Jamaica, which was also a dream of hers during her competitive years.
Tyesha said competing for Great Britain was a pleasure but on her return she wanted to do something different.
“I wanted to go to Jamaica and represent my homeland and it felt right. As soon as I landed it felt like a blessing and I am so grateful my mom did everything to get me here to have an opportunity to show my talent,” she said.
She hasn’t competed internationally in more than four years and is feeling a bit nervous heading into the Commonwealth Games in England, starting July 28.
“I will see how things go at the Commonwealth Games. If I keep working as hard, I am sure my dream will come true. I’ve been working hard to be on an Olympic team from I was competing for Great Britain.
“I had injuries and setbacks but the fact that I have come back and got an opportunity to get to an Olympics means I just cannot waste any time. I will go for it with my best shot,” she said.
China, a former British level two champion, is a talented gymnast in her own right and wants to create her own legacy.
“I want to show how different my floor is from my sister’s because she is a different gymnast from me. There are different pieces that we are good at and I just want to show what I am good at,” she said.
The 16-year-old will represent Jamaica at the Pan Am Games next year.
JGA president Grant-Brown said the naturalisation process for the pair has been completed and they were expecting to receive their passports in another week.