PROUD residents of Andover have a reason to cheer this November as hometown hero, Kristof Willerton, prepares to represent Great Britain at the upcoming FIG Trampoline, DMT, and Tumbling World Championships in Birmingham.

At 30-years-old, Kristof is to become the first British male gymnast to compete in an astonishing 11th World Championships, a decade after his first title in 2013.

In an exclusive interview, Kristof shared his thoughts and emotions as he embarks on another remarkable chapter in his gymnastics journey.

"I'm excited," he said. "I never take these for granted. It gives me a professional level of excitement to keep going at the top level. It comes with different challenges as I'm getting older. I'm having to work quite a few different things and try and work out how to adapt like new training programmes."

READ MORE: Andover's Willerton in GB team for tumbling championship

Born in Gloucester, Kristof initially stumbled into gymnastics due to his boundless energy and a bit of sibling influence.

His journey took a significant turn when he was 12-years-old and had the opportunity to participate in a trial competition, leading to his first junior-level world championships in 2005.

It was there that he crossed paths with his current coach, Alan Lavell (Paddy), who hails from Andover.

Kristof said: "He invited me to come down and train with him occasionally because my club in Gloucester was small and they couldn't really offer me full-time training. So I started coming to Andover once a week. Then I started coming three times a week, and eventually, because I enjoyed it so much, I ended up moving here."

Kristof officially moved to Andover in 2016, where he currently lives with his fiancée, Jenna. He has even bought a house just minutes from his beloved gym, Salto Centre by Charlton Lakes.

Kristof's connection with Andover runs deep, primarily through his gym. He considers it his "safe space" and a pivotal part of his journey, adding: "It became one of my favourite places to be in."

READ ALSO: Kristof Willerton named British men's tumbling champion

Aside from the gym, Kristof enjoys the serene beauty of Anton Lakes and Charlton Lakes, often visiting with his fiancée, who has her own childhood memories associated with Andover.

Among the many people who have influenced Kristof's career, his coach Paddy stands out as a significant mentor. He has played an integral role in shaping Kristof's gymnastics journey. Coach John Murray has also played a big part in his career.

Throughout his career, Kristof has stacked up numerous titles and memorable victories, but representing Great Britain on the world stage remains a source of immense pride for him.

In recent years, Kristof has taken on a coaching role, using his wealth of experience to guide young gymnasts.

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Looking ahead, his goals are a blend of personal achievement and self-enjoyment.

"I hit a big goal last year when I managed to get on the podium. But other than that, my main goal is to really enjoy the sport, because I'm learning a lot about myself, which is helping my coaching."

Kristof won a silver medal at the Trampoline World Championships 2022 in Sofia, Bulgaria. 

For aspiring gymnasts in Andover, Kristof offered a simple yet powerful piece of advice: "Have a go. Try as many sports as you can and see which ones that you really enjoy and you fall in love with."