Olympic medallist Beth Tweddle may never have had to compete with men during her 21-year career as a gymnast but she was at the Grosvenor Hotel in Chester on Friday to inspire women to do just that in the boardroom.
The triple-world champion was keynote speaker at the Women Leaders Association International Women’s Day Conference.
Echoing themes of willpower, determination and sheer guts, which had been shared throughout the day by business women from across the north of England, she paid tribute to teachers at her Chester school, her coach, but most of all her parents for allowing her to succeed.
Beth was a pupil at The Queen’s School when she entered the world of the elite athlete and spoke of the support given for extended periods of time out of studies.
Admitting that she was ‘nothing special’ but ‘willing to work hard’ when she started gymnastics at the age of seven, it was Jerry and Ann Tweddle who can take the credit for getting her to those lessons when she didn’t want to go.
“I would be holding on to the seatbelt in the car because I didn’t want to go in the gym,” said the 31-year-old from Bunbury.
“My parents would hate leaving me but would get a phone call 10 minutes later to be told: ‘She’s fine’. And I was.”
Admitting that she was ‘not the most talented child’ but ‘willing to make mistakes and keep going’ she charted her journey through arduous training to the failure to win a medal at the Beijing Games, from a Brit making it to the European championships when gymnasts from the UK ‘didn’t really do that’ to standing on the podium at London 2012 to an arena full of people shouting her name.
A question from the floor was: “My daughter wins medals for her Irish dancing but every weekend it’s a struggle to get her to go. Should I make her?”
And Beth’s reply was essentially ‘yes’. Not to be a ‘pushy parent’ but to cajole, encourage and basically undo that seatbelt and let your child make mistakes, even fail, but when they are given an opportunity, teach them not to be scared to take it.
What is the Women Leaders Association?
Founded by Sandra Green and based in Tattenhall, the WLA aims to encourage and empower women to be brave, to step forward and to achieve success via:
- Four events a year
- Online learning hub
- Authentic networking
- Mentor Fellowship Programme
For more information email email@example.com