Sunday 1 July 2012

Sunday Surprise

Birthday Wishes

Today's surprise came when I realised that today was Hannah Whelan's 20th Birthday. Has it really been 4 years since the youngest member of Team GB turned 16 and headed off for Beijing? At 16, Hannah had realised many gymnasts' wildest dream by being selected for the Olympics, but in the four years since then, she has gone on to achieve so much more.

Hannah has been a core member of Team GB since the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and has also been an asset to the City of Liverpool Gymnastics Club, where she trains alongside Beth Tweddle, helping them to continue to dominate the British Team Championships year after year. Her performances at national level have been such that she has been twice National Champion all around as well as taking various medals on individual apparatus.

Hannah is perhaps best known for her beam work. In 2011 she impressed everyone by reaching the beam final in the European Championships. This was something she not only repeated but greatly improved on a year later by taking the bronze medal on beam at the 2012 European Championships. She has become the first British gymnast to win a medal at a major international championship. Hannah has always shown great skill and style on beam, performing with confidence and poise.

Floor is another area where Hannah continues to impress. She seems to be growing in confidence on this apparatus and was rewarded with another bronze medal at the 2012 European Championships for her efforts. What an amazing weekend that must have been for Hannah. Her style on floor is fresh and lively. I have to admit to having initial misgivings about the choice of floor music, but it has really grown on me and the music and choreography certainly work well to showcase Hannah's vibrant personality and it has become a routine that I thoroughly enjoy watching.

Not only is Hannah one to watch on beam and floor, she is also an excellent all around gymnast. She seems to be going from strength to strength and at the 2011 World Championships she finished a fantastic 9th in the all around competition. That competition is also where the girls delighted us by ensuring a full team place at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, then proceeding to finish 5th in the team final, the highest result ever for a British gymnastics team.

I have been utterly delighted to watch Hannah's career over the last four years as she has blossomed and matured. She always comes across as being full of life and fun with a great love of the sport that she competes in. She is a strong and solid member of the British team and she also showed herself to be a great team captain at the 2012 European Championships in the absence of Beth Tweddle, leading and supporting a somewhat young and inexperienced team as well as achieving great success for herself. In fact, when watching the routines of the rest of the team, Hannah's voice could be heard above everyone else's, giving support and cheering them on.

So Happy 20th Birthday Hannah. Good look for the team selection and London, and may the next four years be as successful as the last four.


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