21 October 2015Team GB Exclusive: Tweddle excited by current state of British gymnastics
For much of her career Beth Tweddle was out on her own as Britain’s sole world-class gymnast, flying the flag for not just the women’s team but the nation as a whole.
But now tucked away in retirement, the London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist is the first to applaud the strength in depth that has since developed within British gymnastics, insisting it all points towards even greater success.
When the men and women’s teams take to Glasgow’s Hydro Arena on Friday for the opening ceremony of the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships, they will do so boasting seven Olympic medals among their collection.
Louis Smith – now back in the Great Britain set up following a break from the sport post London 2012 – tops the bill with three following his Beijing 2008 pommel bronze and team bronze and pommel silver at London 2012, while Max Whitlock has two bronzes – finishing one place behind Smith in the pommel in London as well as joining him, Kristian Thomas and Dan Purvis in taking team bronze.
There is also the plethora of Commonwealth titles within the team, with nine of the 12 having won at least one title in Glasgow last year – Claudia Fragapane one of the stand out performers with four golds.
Since that competition, Britain’s gymnasts have continued to rack up the medals with Whitlock winning all around silver at the 2014 World Championships, while at this year’s European Championships, the men and women picked up four podium finishes each to place second in the table behind Russia.
And with that in mind, Tweddle believes the stiff competition for places on the team is driving up standards.
“Looking at the European Championships the girls and the boys came home with the exact same amount of medals, obviously I think on the boys side there is more names that people will recognise,” said Tweddle, who retired a little over two years ago.
“Louis is now back in action and you have got Max, but on the girls side you have got Claudia Fragapane has had a few finals and she is learning to take those experiences to the next level, Amy Tinkler, Ellie Downie there are so many names that are coming through.
“It is great that Louis has come back in now because he has that experience he knows what it takes to win medals on the World and international stage.
“Max obviously came into London as kind of the unknown and came home with two Olympic bronze medals and I don’t think at the time he kind of realised what he had achieved.
“He has his goals set high now and I think the competition between the whole team only makes our British team stronger as that team is so difficult to get into now.”
The 30-year-old will be back among more familiar surroundings in Glasgow as she splits her time between working for the International Gymnastics Federation and offering commentary for the BBC.
And while open to offering her advice to the gymnasts, she is more than happy to continue to leave the current stars to take centre stage.
“If they come to me and ask for stuff I am happy to help them, however I try and take a back step because obviously I have been there and I done it and I don’t want them to feel like I am still around,” she added.
“Often when I am at competitions they will come up and talk to me, but I think that is what has helped my retirement I have been able to step away as they have been so successful in their own right.
“I think the difference with gymnastics we never try to talk about medals and we never talk about this is what we have got to score.
“It is the case of ‘this is your routines go out and do your routine and we will see what it comes home with.’
“The coaches are very much focused on do your routines first and we will see what the outcomes are.”
We caught up with the British Gymnastics stars ahead of the World Championships, and this is what they said.