BETH Tweddle has been named in Great Britain’s squad for the Olympic Games in Beijing – but she almost missed out due to a torn calf muscle.
Just prior to the announcement that the Bunbury gymnast had made the six-strong women’s artistic team, Beth received the all-clear from doctors that she could compete on the bars at the British Championships in Guildford at the weekend.
But the problem had threatened to eliminate the injury-plagued 23-year-old from her final Olympics – and her last chance to win gold on the greatest stage of all.
Former world bars champion Beth said: “I was very worried because I was confident I would be selected, but calf muscles can take a long time to heal.
“I was nervous because until you see the piece of paper with your name on it you can never be sure you are selected.
“But with the injury I feared that for the good of the team I may be left out.”
While doctors gave Beth the all-clear, the muscle had still not healed enough to allow her to defend her national all-around title at the weekend. It meant Becky Downie, 16, was able to take advantage and become British champion – ending Beth’s run of seven successive titles.
Beth was fit enough to compete only on the bars, her specialist discipline. She won silver after falling off during her routine on day two attempting an impressive new element – the Ezhova transition to the low bar after a toe-on Tkatchev with a half turn.
“I have been landing it consistently in training and needed to do it in a competition environment,” said Beth. “The second time I fell but it is not a problem.”
From now on, Beth and coach Amanda Kirby will be solely working towards Beijing in an attempt to give the former Chester Queen’s School pupil the best chance of success.
“I have no more competitions or invitational events between now and Beijing,” said Beth. “It is just in the gym, me and Amanda, six-hours a day, training and getting everything right. I have to be completely focused for the games.
“I am also having physiotherapy on my calf to speed up the recovery process.”
Despite winning a bronze medal in the beam, Neston’s Aisling Williams, Beth’s clubmate and a senior team GB regular for the past few years, missed out on selection.
Fellow Liverpool clubmate Mel Roberts of Saltney, who has also been part of the British gymnastics picture for some time, was also not included in the six-strong Olympic team.