15 August 2013Olympic star unveils new complex for gymnastics
Olympic star unveils new complex for gymnastics
THE first woman to win an Olympic medal in gymnastics for Britain has opened a new centre dedicated to the sport near Glasgow.
Triple world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Beth Tweddle was in Hamilton at Eddlewood Sports Barn to meet some of Hamilton Gymnastic Club's 600 members.
And aspiring young gymnasts were awestruck when their guest of honour said she would stay on to watch them put on a stunning display of their skills in their new home.
The club has moved into the new complex after successfully applying to take over the running of the facility when it was mothballed by South Lanarkshire Council.
They had to raise more than £120,000 to get it into shape.
And Beth, who announced her retirement from competitive action after the London Olympics, was impressed with what the club have achieved at Eddlewood.
She said: "For me my passion is getting youngsters involved in the sport, and it's great to come and see something like this.
"This is providing that vital opportunity for youngsters. When I was coming up through the sport I had to travel more than an hour and a half to get to somewhere like this, and so to have this here in the community is great."
And the 28 year-old, who took ITV's Dancing on Ice title in March, predicted more youngsters would be inspired to take up the sport when the Commonwealth Games rolls into town next year.
She added: "Having a major sporting event come to your doorstep gets that inspiration across to youngsters in a way nothing else can."
And the young members of Hamilton Gymnastic Club were star-struck to see their Olympic idol cut the ribbon on their centre.
Rebecca Dunn, 14, said: "We all went mental when we found out we were getting the hall. And then when we found out Beth Tweddle was coming here I nearly started crying. She's my idol, when I saw her on TV I just thought 'I want to do what she does'."
Her pal Lauren English, 13, added: "I was nearly crying too. She made me want to become an Olympian and go to all the competitions that she does."
Sophie Walters, 13, said: "I've been doing gymnastics since I was three, the hall is really good.
"It's good that it gives us a proper place to learn and practise. I'm happy Beth saw us do our routines today, that was great."
But sadly for her fans, Beth was adamant that there was no chance of her coming out of retirement to perform at Glasgow's Commonwealth Games next year.
She said: "It would have been amazing to compete in Glasgow but it is too big a commitment, I'm 28, I've had 21 years in the sport, I've got other targets now."
Hamilton Gymnastic Club was set up in 2005 by head coach Ruth Gibson, 43, who twice represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games.
To find out more about the club, visit www.facebook.com/hamiltongc