|Gymnastics World Championships|
|Venue: Stuttgart, Germany Dates: 4-13 October|
|Coverage: Watch live coverage on BBC One, BBC Two, Red Button, Connected TV, online & the BBC Sport app from 8 October.|
Giarnni Regini-Moran will compete against the world’s best gymnasts for the first time this week – 18 months after he learned how to walk again.
The 21-year-old makes his senior World Championships debut for Great Britain in Stuttgart having overcome a traumatic knee injury he suffered in 2016.
“It was a brutal, brutal injury,” he told BBC Sport.
“I honestly didn’t think I would come back from it.”
He added: “For me it’s about getting these World Championships completed safely and making sure as a team we qualify for the Olympics.”
Both GB’s men and women will be aiming to secure team spots at next year’s Tokyo Games by virtue of strong results in Germany over the next week.
For Regini-Moran making that team, and indeed this championships team, was a dream he thought had been lost.
In 2016, the Youth Olympic all around, floor and vault champion was flying high in his fledgling gymnastics career and in contention to make the team for the Rio Olympics.
However, during Olympic selection his Rio hopes were extinguished after an awkward fall off the high bar left him with traumatic knee injuries requiring surgery and a painful recovery process.
“I had a complete snap of the posterior cruciate ligament and damaged other ligaments too,” said Regini-Moran.
“My knee bent so far the wrong way that I also fractured my shinbone.
‘That put me out for the next year and a half and once I got back from that it took 18 months of rehab. It was a lot of mental stress.
“Trying to rebuild a knee again and learning how to walk, land and jump that was something that was very hard.”
The extent of his injuries, as well as his lengthy period of convalescence, made him question his future in the sport.
“I thought there’s no point carrying on,” he said.
“I could see myself being able to run and jump again but I couldn’t see myself becoming a world class gymnast.
“It was a very down point in my life. I felt like a lot of things had been taken away from me – my sport, my freedom.
“I was thinking I don’t know what I’m going to do because gymnastics is my life.”
Regini-Moran’s father Glenn even suggested he joined him in the plastering business. But the gymnasium was where he really wanted to be.
“When I was walking again my dad would bring me along to jobs and I just didn’t want to be there.
“I set myself small goals – like first bending my knee, then weight-bearing, then walking and so on.
“Now I’m back it’s like I’ve never been out.”
While Regini-Moran was relearning basic movements he watched the man he had beaten to that Youth Olympic title in 2014 enjoy success after success.
Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy has gone on to win Olympic and World team medals and last year claimed world individual all around bronze.
You could forgive Regini-Moran for casting a slightly envious eye at the sort of career trajectory that he might have enjoyed for himself.
But he takes a very different, mature view.
“It’s been hard because I know I have been there and I have beaten him,” he said.
“But he’s been very successful and in another way so have I in terms of overcoming what I had to go through to still be sitting here making a World Championships team.
“I’m happy for him. I’m working hard to, maybe not yet but one day, beat him again.”
It’s clear he is in no rush to ‘make up for lost time’. He has learned much from his injury troubles – not least about the virtue of patience.
“It’s made me the person I am today and it’s taught me a lot,” he said.
“The bigger picture is the Olympic Games and if we don’t do that my dream of going to the Olympics is very tough.
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“I’m just taking it smalls steps at a time.
“First thing was to make the team and now I want to enjoy my first World Championships.
“Also, nowadays the main thing is to walk away safe.”
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