A FORMER world champion gymnast from Andover is targeting more medals having been selected for his 10th World Championships.

Tumbling star Kristof Willerton, who trains at Andover Gymnastics Club, will compete at the championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, from November 16 to 19.

In doing so, he will return to the same arena where he clinched the world title nine years ago, back in 2013.

Sofia holds great memories for Willerton, and he’s hopeful of replicating the form that saw him take gold there almost a decade ago.

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He said: “This World Championships has been a target of mine for a long time. It is very exciting to have the opportunity to return to Sofia where I won my individual title and first world team title.

“Personally, this will be one of my final opportunities to fight for another individual medal as well, which has been a long-term goal.”

Willerton’s longevity is almost unmatched in the world of tumbling, and he attributes much of his success to the support of his coaches and his club.

He said: “Paddy (Lavelle), my personal coach, has supported me through my career since I moved to Andover 17 years ago, but more than that is a massive support in my life outside the gym too, which has helped me move through as a senior gymnast.

“It has been a really tough year for me, and I’ve learned it doesn’t necessarily always get easier with the more experience you have, so the support from club and coaches means more than ever.”

During his time as a member of the GBR team, Kristof has played a crucial role in making Britain the team to beat on the world stage. Since he made his debut in 2010, the team have scooped four medals, including two gold.

In Sofia he’ll be flanked by a new-look team that includes two debutants in Lewis Westwood (Durham) and Ramarni Levena (City of Birmingham), and current British champion Jaydon Paddock (City of Birmingham).

With a month to go, preparations for both Kristof and the team are well underway: “A lot of the components of my training have been amazing and I have never felt stronger in certain areas, although managing my body physically has been more of a challenge as I go on.

He said: “I have done a lot of mental preparation to help make sure I am ready to peak in the big moment, so time will tell if that will pay off.

“It would be amazing to go into the team competition to try and fight for our team title again, and I’m excited to get out there.”

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British Gymnastics performance director, Andy Tombs said: “It’s been a busy year for the gymnasts involved, with the European Championships in the summer followed by the British Championships in September. With competition season concluding with the World Championships, it provides another opportunity for British gymnasts to proudly compete at a major championship.

“Congratulations to all of the gymnasts and coaches selected for what will no doubt be a fantastic event in Bulgaria.”