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That's my girl Mark Kinsella 'thrilled' after daughter wins bronze medal for gymnastics in Olympics

There is also another Irish connection to the team as twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova were born in Dublin to Azerbaijani parents, before moving to England.

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Great Britain’s Alice Kinsella, Jennifer Gadirova, Jessica Gadirova and Amelie Morgan celebrate with their bronze medals (Martin Rickett/PA)

Great Britain’s Alice Kinsella, Jennifer Gadirova, Jessica Gadirova and Amelie Morgan celebrate with their bronze medals (Martin Rickett/PA)

Great Britain’s Alice Kinsella, Jennifer Gadirova, Jessica Gadirova and Amelie Morgan celebrate with their bronze medals (Martin Rickett/PA)

FORMER Ireland footballer Mark Kinsella admits he was “thrilled” to watch his daughter win an Olympics bronze medal for gymnastics.

Alice Kinsella (20) was part of the four-member Great Britain side which won their first Olympic team medal in 93 years.

During the team final Alice performed on all four apparatuses, hitting all her routines.

There is also another Irish connection to the team as twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova were born in Dublin to Azerbaijani parents, before moving to England.

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Bronze medalists Jennifer Gadirova, Jessica Gadirova, Amelie Morgan and Alice Kinsella

Bronze medalists Jennifer Gadirova, Jessica Gadirova, Amelie Morgan and Alice Kinsella

Bronze medalists Jennifer Gadirova, Jessica Gadirova, Amelie Morgan and Alice Kinsella

“I was absolutely delighted,” Mark (48) tells the Sunday World. “But as you were watching it, which is the disappointing thing about the BBC, was we didn’t get an opportunity to see the girls' routines and you were only getting the scores coming through.

“It was hard to see where they were. I knew they were seventh after the two rotations and then the third one moved them up. But you were getting scores coming through so fast when they went into bars and you knew the Italians were on a difficult apparatus, so that’s when we knew they could win a medal.”

He explains that Alice is the eldest of the team and that this was their first Olympics, having previously competed at European and World championships.

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Ireland's Mark Kinsella at Lansdowne Road in 2004

Ireland's Mark Kinsella at Lansdowne Road in 2004

Ireland's Mark Kinsella at Lansdowne Road in 2004

“My eldest daughter Gabriella started off at gymnastics, so we would take her and then Alice would pop along,” he recalls.

“She would go and play on the bouncy things and jump off bars, and the coach just saw her at the age of four and asked her did she want to join the kiddies club and started that at a younger age, because she must have seen something in her at that age and it started from there, two days a week, four days a week and now it’s six and seven days a week.”

Mark, who was a midfielder and has 48 caps for Ireland and played for the likes of Aston Villa, Charlton and Walsall, has three children, Liam (25), Gabriella (22) and Alice (20).

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All three were born and brought up in England and Alice lives with Mark’s ex-wife, Karen.

In 2002 Mark played in the World Cup in Japan and now his daughter has won a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

“There was a bit of banter when I was telling her the last member of the family to be down there nearly 20 years ago was me playing in the World Cup,” he smiles.

“It’s something, when you have dream. Like my own father felt when I went to the World Cup in 2002, that when your son or daughter has a dream at a young age and they go and achieve it. This is all she has ever wanted to do was try and get to the Olympics, just being an Olympian and then to walk away with a medal, it has been wonderful.”

Alice’s family were unable to be in Tokyo to cheer her on.

“It’s just difficult because obviously with the Covid nobody with the travel,” he points out. “But if it was opened up I think it would have been an expensive trip, to support her. So she has had to go over there with no support really, just the group together, so she has come out of it tremendously.”

His son Liam is also a footballer and plays for Walsall. He has also played for the Ireland Under 21s and Under 19s.

Dubliner Mark is reflective when asked if it’s unusual that his son has represented Ireland, while his daughter is a Great Britain torch bearer.

“It’s just the set up,” he points out. “I think with football what we did with Jack Grealish and Declan Rice as a younger age, England thought they weren’t good enough and then all of a sudden we had them for a few years. Then they obviously had potential and England took them back.

"I think it’s the same with the Irish set up, we try as coaches over here, try to look for Irish players who have gone abroad to make a living or parents who have kids that can’t play for your country and I think that’s where Liam came into it like many more before him and the opportunity came to him, so he was just blessed to get that opportunity to play for Ireland.

“Gymnastics is big in England, not so much here. I think from an early age they were drilled. It’s a big competition inhouse as well as clubs, more so over there so it was always going to happen that she’d go for Great Britain.”

Mark, who is originally from Glasnevin and works as an RTE soccer commentator, hopes to get to see Alice soon.

“With Covid and traveling, hopefully within the next one or two months if we are lucky,” he notes. ”I get to see her on Facetime and the likes. She will probably be busy for the next few months doing publicity stuff and so on.”

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