A year of British GymnasticsMuch has happened in British gymnastics in 2012. With a home Olympics to look forward to, there was a great deal of anticipation and with such a wealth of talent within British gymnastics it was also guaranteed to be very exciting.
London 2012 Test Event
With Britain having already qualified a team to the Olympic Games, the Test Event was a chance for GB to showcase new talent and give experience to some of the younger gymnasts. Jocelyn Hunt and Rebecca Tunney were the two gymnasts selected to compete at the Test Event. First year senior Rebecca Tunney acquitted herself particularly well showing us a glimpse of what we could expect from her in the year to come. She placed 19th All Around as well as making the Uneven Bars Final, where she finished 6th. It was a good start to what would be a great year for Rebecca.
With Beth Tweddle recovering from knee surgery, Team GB was without their star and team leader in the European Championships. Not to be deterred, the team of Hannah Whelan, Rebecca Tunney, Jenni Pinches, Danusia Francis and Ruby Harrold gave their all throughout and with great results. In the team competition they qualified in 3rd behind Romania and Russia, however they were pushed down into 4th place in the Team Finals. There was more to come though, with first year senior Ruby Harrold qualifying to the
Uneven Bars Final and Hannah Whelan qualifying to both the Beam and Floor Finals. Ruby did brilliantly in what was her first major international competition as a senior, but unfortunately a small error at the end of her routine saw her finish in 7th. Hannah fared much better in her two finals, earning herself two Bronze medals. Overall, a very successful competition for Team GB.
British Team Championships
With Liverpool again looking very strong it seemed inevitable that they would yet again be victorious in the British Team Championships. Even without their two main gymnasts, Beth Tweddle and Hannah Whelan, Liverpool did indeed take the title, with The Academy finishing 2nd and Notts 3rd. But perhaps of even greater importance was the fact that this competition was the first of the GB Olympic Trials. With only five places available on the Olympic Team there was a lot at stake for the gymnasts. Rebecca Tunney gave a fantastic performance to take the All Around Gold with Danusia Francis taking the Silver and Ruby Harrold taking the Bronze. Other seniors that impressed were Imogen Cairns, Jenni Pinches and Becky Downie. There was clearly going to be a battle all the way to the Olympic Games.
The second of the Olympic Trials was a friendly meet between GB, Spain and Finland. Rebecca Tunney was yet again victorious, taking Gold in the All Around ahead of Spain's Paula Vargas and Ana Maria Izurieta who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. With everyone giving some good performances, the question of who would make the Olympic Team was looking more and more difficult.
Alongside the chance to become the 2012 British Champion was also the third and final Olympic Trial. With so much at stake tensions were bound to be running high. This was the final chance for the gymnasts to make their mark on the selection committee before the team was announced. The All Around competition proved to be a demonstration of the excellence of the City of Liverpool Gymnastics Club with their gymnasts Rebecca Tunney, Jenni Pinches and Hannah Whelan taking the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals respectively. Overall it was a very interesting competition with each of the gymnasts demonstrating their skills on various pieces of apparatus. The five places for the Olympics were still very much in doubt. Fortunately there would not be long to wait.
London 2012 Olympic Games
The team chosen to represent Britain at the London 2012 Olympic Games were Beth Tweddle, Hannah Whelan, Rebecca Tunney, Jenni Pinches and Imogen Cairns. For these five the pressure of trying to make the team then became the pressure of competing at a home Olympics. The team qualified well, successfully making it to the Team Final. With very few errors, they all performed brilliantly, earning a record high of 6th place at an Olympic Games. The All Around Final saw two Brits, Hannah and Rebecca, competing as part of the top 24 gymnasts. Rebecca performed cleanly to finish the competition in 13th place. Hannah however suffered a fall on vault which was very controversially judged as a 0.000. This meant that all of Hannah's hopes of a good finish were dashed, so unfortunate for such a good gymnast who had been performing so well in the competition. In event finals, all eyes were on Beth Tweddle for the Uneven Bars Final. Everyone knew how much Beth wanted an Olympic medal and we were all nervous as we watched her take to the bars - I for one think that I held my breath during the entire routine! The routine was amazing, then just as we were all about to breathe there was a very uncharacteristic stumble on landing. Again came the wait to see whether she had done enough, followed by the elation of realising that she had indeed achieved her dream and won an Olympic Bronze medal - the only medal that was in fact won at the Olympics that did not go to one of the top four nations.
Glasgow World Cup
The Glasgow World Cup was an excellent way to round off what has been a fantastic year for British Gymnastics. With British gymnasts Rebecca Tunney and Niamh Rippin able to end the year in front of a home crowd, spirits were high. Rebecca and Niamh had both competed at the Stuttgart World Cup the previous weekend, finishing 6th and 8th respectively and I am sure that both of them would have been hoping to improve on that, especially with the support of the home crowd. Niamh had a great competition, performing cleanly and finishing in 6th. For Rebecca, it was a game of two halves. After both the first and second rotations she was in second place, but a fall on beam in the third rotation saw her drop down to 6th. An excellent (as always) performance on floor saw her move up slightly and finish the day in 5th place.
With the departure of Beth Tweddle and Jenni Pinches, and Danusia Francis competing in NCAA gymnastics in LA, it could have easily been thought not so long ago that British gymnastics would have nowhere to go. But with the recovery of Becky Downie and the emergence of Rebecca Tunney and Ruby Harrold alongside the likes of Hannah Whelan and a whole host of talented juniors about to move up, I think it is safe to say that British Gymnastics is going to have a lot to offer in 2013 and beyond.