Friday 20 July 2012

Friday Favourites

Olympic Hopeful Beth Tweddle

Britain's Beth Tweddle is not just a great gymnast, she is rapidly becoming a legend of British Gymnastics. Nobody has done more for the sport than Beth, going on to achieve greater and greater things and generate more and more enthusiasm for a little talked about or followed sport in Britain. She has become a six time European Gold medallist, and a three time World Gold medallist. Can Beth's third and final Olympic Games, in her home country, bring the Olympic Gold that she so deserves?

I for one, believe that this is Beth's year and I think you will find it very hard to find anyone who does not wish Beth the Gold in London - except the Russians and the Chinese perhaps! At the age of 27 and with over 11 years of senior competition behind her, she has the experience and the maturity to do what needs to be done. She also knows how to deal with the pressure, saying that she wants to do the best routines she possibly can and if that produces a medal even better, but if not she still has a lot more to look back on. And Beth certainly does have a lot to look back on over her wonderful career.

Her senior career began in 2001 with Beth taking her first senior all around British Championships title. Later in the year she was picked for the 2001 World Championship team, where the team finished 9th and Beth came 24th in the all around final. In 2002 she won the Bronze medal on bars at the European Championships, becoming the first British gymnast to win a European medal. Later that year, she finished 4th in the bars final at the World Championships as well as becoming the Commonwealth Champion on bars, Silver medallist all around and with a second place finish for the team. In 2003 Beth made history again, taking the Bronze medal on bars at the World Championships and becoming the first British gymnast to win a World medal. In 2004 she took Silver on bars at the European Championships before being being selected to the Athens 2004 Olympics, where the team finished 11th and Beth came 19th in the all around final.

2005 started well for Beth, qualifying in 2nd place all around at the European Championships and qualifying for all three of the apparatus finals she was eligible for. Unfortunately, injury struck and she was unable to compete in the finals. At the 2005 World Championships she did incredibly well, just missing out on a medal in the all around with a 4th place finish. She also took yet another Bronze medal on the bars but had to withdraw from the floor final due to injury. 2006 was an incredible year for both Beth and British Gymnastics. Beth became the first British gymnast to win a European title, taking the Gold on bars at the European Championships, and the first British gymnast to win a World title, becoming Gold medallist and uneven bars World Champion at the 2006 World Championships. In 2007, she became British Champion for the 7th consecutive year. She helped Britain to qualify a full team to the Beijing 2008 Olympics at the 2007 World Championships. Although she did well individually in qualifying, she failed to medal in any of the finals. In 2008 Beth claimed yet another Silver medal on bars at the European Championships as well as a 4th place finish on bars. At the Beijing 2008 Olympics she made it to the bars final but finished just outside the medals in 4th.

By now, firmly concentrating on her two favourite apparatus, bars and floor, Beth continued winning at World and European level. She won Gold on both events at the 2009 European Championships and although she failed to qualify for the bars final at the 2009 World Championships she won the Gold medal on floor. In 2010 Beth once again took Gold at the European Championships on bars and floor as well as helping the team to a Silver medal finish. She also took another Gold on bars at the 2010 World Championships. In 2011 Beth took her 3rd consecutive Gold medal on the bars at the European Championships, but finished outside the medals on floor. At the 2011 World Championships, although she failed to medal, not only did she help Britain to qualify a full team to the Olympics, she also helped lead the team to a 5th place finish, the best ever result for a British gymnastics team.

So now for 2012. After such an amazing career so far, I would love to see Beth win an Olympic medal. She certainly deserves it. Her bars routines are innovative, daring and excellently performed. I am sure that the home crowd in London will be cheering her on, as will I and many others across the world. Good luck Beth.

(Sorry about the spelling mistake in the title of the video - that wasn't me!)

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