Regini-Moran targeting Tokyo Olympics as he makes long-awaited comeback

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Giarnni Regini-Moran is targeting Tokyo at the European Games in Minsk (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Giarnni Regini-Moran headed home from the 2014 Youth Olympics with three gold medals in his luggage and the conviction that he was ready to announce his arrival on the world stage.

And when the Kent gymnast repeated the triple feat at the European Junior Championships two years later, he looked set to be fast-tracked into the senior squad for the Rio Olympic Games.

But instead a pair of devastating injuries would sideline Regini-Moran for the best part of an entire Olympic cycle, only now enabling him to make his long-awaited major comeback at the European Games in Minsk next week.

Giarnni Regini-Moran
Giarnni Regini-Moran has battled back from injury heartbreak (Nigel French/PA)

A knee injury in pre-Rio training which required six-hour reconstructive surgery and four metal screws – two of which remain – was followed, two years later and in his first training session back, by a fractured ankle.

While he watched the likes of Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy, whom he had beaten into all-around silver Nanjing, go on win a medal in Rio, Regini-Moran courted the very real possibility that his promising gymnastics career was over before he was out of his teens.

Regini-Moran told Press Association Sport: “There were quite a few points where I almost gave it all up. I hit rock-bottom and I would ask myself, ‘why am I even bothering to do this any more?

“I had gone from all that glory to ‘get well soon’. I was on the verge of the Olympic Games then suddenly I was just another athlete who was injured, sitting at home doing absolutely nothing.

“I actually laughed when I got my ankle injury. It was my first training session back. I was focusing on protecting my knee, and I landed a vault and just felt it roll and snap.

“I looked over at my coach and we were just in disbelief. I was in so much pain and it was almost funny because of the shock and the disbelief. I was like, what’s going to happen now?”

Still to celebrate his 20th birthday at the time, Regini-Moran sought out the help of a psychologist and committed to a gruelling fightback which resulted in his return to all-around competition at the British Championships in Liverpool in March.

“The European Games might not be as big, but after everything I’ve been through, pulling the GB kit back on makes me feel like I’m going to the Olympics,” added Regini-Moran.

“This is the step to say, ‘you’re back as a world-class athlete.’ I could have given it all up but I stayed fighting. Going to the Olympics was a boyhood dream and now I finally feel like I’m going to accomplish it.”

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