Thursday 5 July 2012

Thursday's Thoughts

Thinking about Team GB

Wednesday 4th July. Computer on. Phone off. Hands grasping the edge of my seat. Why? For the announcement of the Great Britain Olympic Gymnastics Team. And the team are . . .

Beth Tweddle . . . Hannah Whelan . . . Rebecca Tunney . . . Jennifer Pinches . . . Imogen Cairns

Beth Tweddle
Beth is without a doubt the most successful female gymnast Great Britain has ever produced. In the 11+ years of her senior career Beth has broken record after record, becoming the first British Gymnast to medal at the European Championships (Bronze, 2003), the first British gymnast to medal at the World Championships (Bronze, 2003), the first British gymnast to win Gold at the European Championships (2006) and also the first ever British World Champion (2006). All of these successes where on the uneven bars where she shows extraordinary skill and talent. She is currently a three time World Champion (twice on bars, once on floor) and a six time European Champion (four times on bars, twice on floor). Beth was destined for great things from the start of her senior career, taking the all around Gold at her first senior British Championships in 2001. She then went on to defend the title for the next six years, becoming the seven time consecutive British Champion in 2007. In 2008 Beth decided to focus on her main two apparatus, uneven bars and floor, rather than continuing to compete all around. This proved to be a good decision as Beth has won so many medals on these apparatus in recent years. The only medal that is missing from Beth's collection in an Olympic one, something that she will be hoping to achieve in a few weeks time. Ever pragmatic, Beth has got a sensible attitude going into these home games where the pressure must be enormous to bring home a good result. She has been quoted as 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. I couldn't agree more. Beth has been a wonderful ambassador for British Gymnastics, a great competitor, a strong and supportive team captain and a joy to watch. I wish her every luck in what will unfortunately be her final Olympic Games.

Hannah Whelan
Hannah has achieved a great deal in British Gymnastics since the start of her senior career in 2008. She is already an experienced Olympian, having competed as the youngest member of the team in Beijing 2008 at only 15 years old. Hannah has gone from strength to strength since then, becoming two time all around British Champion, European Bronze medal winner on beam and floor (the first British gymnast to medal on beam at a major senior international competition) and a top ten all around finish in the 2011 World Championships where she performed brilliantly to finish 9th. Hannah has been a core member of the British team since 2008, helping the team to new and greater achievements. She is a consistent worker and will be a key member of the British team, particularly on beam and floor. She will also be hoping for good results in the all around competition. I can't wait to see Hannah shine in front of the home crowd and wish her every luck in the Olympic Games.

Rebecca Tunney
Rebecca has impressed many people, myself included, in what is her first year as a senior. After much success as a junior Rebecca has translated this brilliantly into senior success, becoming the all around 2012 British Champion and winning the all around title at both of the previous Olympic Trials events. She seems to have grown in confidence in every competition I have seen her in this year and her performances have gone from strength to strength. She started off the year in spectacular fashion, competing at the London 2012 Test Event in January only weeks into her senior career, where she made the uneven bars final and finished 6th. A few months later she was part of the team at the 2012 European Championships where she made it into the floor final where she came 5th. She is a brilliant all around gymnast with no real weak apparatus. Rebecca will be the youngest member of the Olympic Team and will be looking to really make her mark on the international scene Good luck Rebecca.

Jennifer Pinches
Jenni has been a regular member of the British Gymnastics Team in recent years. She is a steady and consistent gymnast whose routines have steadily been gaining in performance and difficulty. Her most recent notable upgrade was the DTY that she showed us at the British Championships a couple of weeks ago. She performed it beautifully in both the all around competition and the vault final and this will greatly help the team's vault score at the Olympics. In fact she performed superbly all weekend and came away with the Silver medal in the all around competition as well as Silver on vault and Gold on beam. I have always enjoyed watching Jenni perform as she always seems to do so with such ease and enjoyment. I am really pleased that she made the team and look forward to seeing her performances in London. Good luck Jenni.

Imogen Cairns
At 23, Imogen is a well known member of Team GB. She has competed in many international competitions and has achieved some excellent results. She is best known for her superb vaulting and has achieved two Commonwealth titles and three National titles on this apparatus. Her floor work is also fantastic and she has taken a Commonwealth and a National title on floor. She is a strong tumbler but combines this with good dance work, elegance and artistry making her routines beautiful to watch. Imogen has struggled throughout her career with various injuries, but her determination and love of the sport has kept her going and she has been justifiably rewarded with a spot on the Olympic Team, her second Olympic Games, after competing for Great Britain for over seven years. I am really looking forward to seeing her competing in London.

The Team
Team GB has been going from strength to strength for many years now. With World Champion Beth Tweddle inspiring youngsters, British Gymnastics is set for a good future. So what can we expect from this team in London 2012? The team finished 5th in the 2012 World Championships, the highest ever place for a British team. The girls will be hoping to repeat this excellent result or even improve on it, but getting into the top four amongst the USA, Russia, China and Romania will be tough. They also need to look closely behind them as Italy have a very strong team at the moment and will be looking to threaten. In the all around, I am sure we will see Hannah Whelan and Rebecca Tunney performing. Both have had an excellent year and will be looking to consolidate their good results. In the apparatus finals, Beth will be the one to watch as she prepares to take on the rest of the World. With real medal potential for GB at this Olympic Games I simply can't wait . . . Let the Games begin!

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