Kristof Willerton: Tumbling's master of the triple layout
Britain's Kristof Willerton, who won the 2013 World title in Men's Tumbling, has not rested on his laurels. The 21-year-old threw a new triple layout at an invitational in Belgium, a skill not even the top tumblers in the world have dared to try on the World stage.
We caught up with Willerton, an Oxford co-ed when he's not in the gym, for a brief chat about his new skill and the direction Tumbling is taking.
Q: Kristof, it was amazing to see someone throw a triple layout in competition. When did you start training it? Was it difficult to learn?
Willerton: "It is a skill I had been playing around for a while for fun, initially trying it in 2012, and as soon as I had the power to put it on hard track, it seemed to come along easier than I expected."
Q: How long had you been planning to compete it before you did?
Kristof Willerton: "It was something I always hoped to do in the back of my mind, as the move is fairly unique to Tumbling compared to other Gymnastic disciplines, but since the start of 2014 I had planned to also use the move as a power preparation for other new moves. The hardest part was convincing my coaches that it was ready to compete, but it was useful to have resistance until it was 100 percent safe."
Q: After what must have a disappointment at the 2014 Worlds where you fell in the final, is this your way of avenging that performance, upping the ante?
Willerton: "The last World Championships was a tough experience, but I felt I had had a great year in spite of this, so I tried not to be too disappointed. I was however more motivated when I returned to try the new skills and look at my outlook for future runs differently."
Q: Difficulty in Tumbling seems to be getting harder and harder. Do you think we're close to topping out on what athletes are capable of?
Willerton: "There has been a big surge recently, but with tracks still improving I think there is potential for the difficulty to keep on rising, and I’m sure some of the Russians have the potential to beat the difficulty records. Hopefully the triple layout for me will lead into new and harder skills that I have been training as well."
Q: Are you still at Oxford, by the way? What's next for you?
Willerton: "I am in my fourth and final year at Oxford, and my main focus is to carry on training and hopefully continue improving in tumbling for many years to come. This year is also a big year for our team at the World Championships, so hopefully we can build some more momentum leading up to this event. I am also starting to get more involved in coaching, as well as looking at going into work after I graduate."