Beth Tweddle MBE has just added another Gold medal to her growing collection at the World Championships based at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam. Beth is the most successful British gymnast to date having achieved consistently throughout the years and competing at both the Olympics in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. The pressure leading up to her performance was intense, “I tried to remain calm but I knew at that point that if I went clean I had a great chance of winning the title.” The medal for her performance on the Asymmetric bars – often regarded as the hardest piece of equipment requiring a huge amount of core and upper body strength – is Beth’s third Gold World Championship medal (including her win in front of a home crowd at the O2 Arena in 2009) and she doesn’t intend to stop here.
Now at the age of 25 Beth is considered old by gymnastics standards as competitors usually range from teenagers to the low to mid twenties - past stars such as the infamous Russian Olga Korbut achieved the height of her fame at the age of 17. In terms of physical demands the requirements and competition are incredibly tough and there were concerns after the Beijing Olypmics where Beth finished fourth that her best performances were in the past. However with this comeback Beth is as determined as ever to work even harder for the London 2012 Olympics by which time she will be 27, “Everyone keeps telling me how old I am but the motivation is there, and the main motivation is London 2012. Today I proved I am still able to fight with the young generation. I’ve got every title to my name now apart from an Olympic one and I’d be happy with any Olympic medal, it doesn’t have to be gold.”
Gymnastics is the fastest growing sport in Britain. Beth is a shining light but she was also joined by Louis Smith who gained a Silver on the pommel horse in Rotterdam and 19 year old Dan Purvis who took the Bronze for his floor routine. It’s a far cry from Beth’s early start at a local gymnastics club – her father took her along in an attempt to quell the excess energy of his hyperactive seven year old daughter. She has gone from strength to strength with a nomination for BBC Sports Personality of the Year and in May she was also honoured with an MBE, “I was surprisingly quite nervous before the ceremony – I was worried about tripping up when I walked in. Everyone kept saying to me ‘You are not going to cartwheel in’.” A few cartwheels would have been fun but in the end Beth made the walk - cartwheel-free - and is now focused on her training for the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics.
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016