NILE Wilson soared back from ankle surgery to claim three gold medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia and gave the impression he was on the cusp of ruling the gymnastics world.

Pudsey star Wilson had shot to fame by winning Olympic bronze on the high bar in Rio, and his obvious all-round talent placed him firmly at the forefront of Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 prospects.

Instead, neck surgery and its subsequent complications plunged Wilson into physical and mental battles, from which he is only now beginning to re-emerge to target a place at the delayed Games in 2021.

“Obviously the Olympic postponement was a bit of a blessing in disguise for me,” Wilson conceded to the PA news agency, although like all affected athletes, he is eager to stress its relative inconsequence.

“It’s one of those times when we all have to take a step back for a second and appreciate that this pandemic is way bigger than sport.”

Wilson has stayed busy during his recovery process - and subsequent lockdown - by entertaining his social media army, with 1.4 million subscribers to his Youtube channel and almost 500,000 followers on Instagram.

It is just one way in which the 24-year-old has overcome the psychological effects which began to take their toll, as a period in which he had been expected to continue his emergence was spent in a hospital bed.

“The physical pain is one thing, but when you’re doing the sport you love one minute, then it’s taken away from you in a split second, that’s very difficult to cope with,” added Wilson.

“It’s been two years since I properly competed, and I’ve had my own real struggles with mental health in this time, but I’ve also had incredible support.

“Learning how to cope with these challenges has made me a stronger person, and this pandemic has shown there is more to life than fame and success.

“Playing my part through this whole pandemic is about allowing people to escape for a few minutes, to click on the blog and have a smile or a laugh, and if it can inspire you in some way then that’s my main goal.”

Wilson’s current injury issues entail nerve damage arising from shoulder surgery, which affect him down his right side and stop blood supply to his shoulder.

Nonetheless, he is adamant that he will be 100 per cent recovered for the new Tokyo date, and able to re-live the medal-winning moments he enjoyed in both Brazil and the Gold Coast.

“Being an athlete is all about being in the moment,” added Wilson. “My Rio medal is just something that’s sitting there gathering dust.

“It does give me a great feeling from a pride perspective and it reminds me what I do it for. It’s not for the fame or the riches or the materials, it’s because I want to be Olympic champion.”