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Beth Tweddle MBE

Britain's Greatest ever Female Gymnast


13 January 2015Beth content that career opened the door for stars of today

Britain’s greatest ever female gymnast Beth is enjoying her retirement content in the knowledge that the sport’s future on these shores is in rude health.

Beth, who announced her retirement on the one-year anniversary of her momentous bronze medal at London 2012 Olympics, has seen the sport’s popularity skyrocket thereafter.

As the first female GB gymnast to win medals at the European and World Championships as well as the Olympics, she blazed a trail which has seen British gymnastics reach unprecedented heights.

The recognition of Claudia Fragapane as BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year and Max Whitlock’s nomination for the major gong show the massive impression the Cheshire native has made.

The triple World champion believes the sport has a massive future, she said: “The future of gymnastics in Great Britain is unbelievable.

“The results from the recent European Championships and Commonwealth Games speak for themselves. That medal tally was unthinkable 10 years ago.”

Beth, whose career spanned over 20 years having commenced training at age seven, took a long time contemplating her exit from the sport and believes the gradual adaptation helped the smooth transition.

One such change was her participation in the 2013 Dancing on Ice competiion. Tweddle, who eventually took top honours with partner Dan Whiston and returned to take third a year later, loved the experience.

She said: “That showed me a different side to life away from being a full-time athlete and the show really brought me out of my shell.”

The 29-year-old looks back fondly on her achievements, which include an incredible 27 medals at major events including 14 golds, and feels that all the hard work was worth it.

“There were a lot of sacrifices but to be honest, I didn’t see it as sacrifices at the time. When I was younger, occasionally I missed out on a few parties,” she added.

“I have seen and done a lot more than most people my age. I loved competing and I would do it all over again.”

Her three Olympic appearances are special to her but winning bronze in London on the uneven bars will always have a ‘special place’ in her heart.

She said: “To finally achieve my life long dream and to do it on home soil was fantastic, there isn’t really any words that can describe how incredible that experience was.”

Her legacy in the pantheon of Britain’s sporting greats is secure but one of her greatest achievements has been the belief she instilled into the next generation.

“I helped younger gymnasts believe that they too can achieve their goals with a lot of hard work and determination,” Beth said.

She displays the same passion for work in retirement as she did during her career and as director and ambassador of Total Gymnastics she is quickly giving something back to the sport she loves.

The initiative involves helping out at schools and leisure centres affording children the opportunity to take part in gymnastics in positive and enjoyable environment.

Beth, awarded an MBE for her sporting achievements, believes that the key to success is to enjoy your pursuit and shoot for the stars.

She said: “The best piece of advice I can give to any aspiring athlete is to enjoy what you do and remember dreams can and do come true.”

As for the future: “Who knows? At the minute I’m just really enjoying life, doing lots of different things. I will always be involved in gymnastics, which has given me so much throughout my life,” she said.

After a glittering career which kept the British sporting public on the edge of their seats, Beth continues to inspire, even in retirement.