BETH Tweddle may put her retirement plans on hold as the lure of the London Olympics in 2012 is proving too hard to resist.
The former world champion gymnast from Bunbury finished just out of the medals in the women’s uneven bars final in Beijing, ending up fourth – a position she described as “the worst place to finish”.
Beth had initially earmarked next year’s World Championships in London as her farewell event, but admits to being fired up by the prospect of competing at an Olympics in her home country in four years.
“I have retired from all-around competition now and am taking it six months at a time,” said the 23-year-old Liverpool Gymnastics Club star. “The first question everyone asked me after the bars final was, ‘what about 2012?’, but I am not committing to anything at this stage.
“What I have been told by people is ‘never say never’. I am at the top of my game at the moment and it is not impossible to go on into my late 20s or even 30s with gymnastics if I stay fit.
“If the next Olympics was in any other country I would say no and stick to my plan. But there is an added draw when it is your home nation.
“Amanda Kirby, my coach, has said she will go with whatever I decide, and with Becky Downie challenging me on the bars I could get better.”
Beth has raised the bar for British gymnastics. The former Chester Queen’s School pupil – a former world, European and Commonwealth champion – registered the highest ever finish by a British female gymnast at an Olympics while in Beijing. She pulled out all the stops in the bars final, attempting the hardest routine ever attempted by anyone in history.
“My first aim was to make an Olympic final and I achieved that,” she said. “Only because I got so close to a medal did it hurt in the end.”
And after being “cocooned” in the Olympic bubble in China, Beth got a shock when the triumphant Team GB landed at Heathrow on Monday as hordes of people waited to greet them.
“We all came back on the Team GB jet and none of us were aware of the reaction back home,” said Beth. “We were diverted away from Terminal Five because there were too many people and we came out on the tarmac to crowds of people. Then the medallists were ferried away and I made a connecting flight back north.”
As Beth takes a well-earned break, the International Olympic Committee is investigating a claim that Chinese uneven bars gold medallist He Kexin may have been too young to compete.
In the unlikely event she is disqualified, Beth would take bronze, but she said that was not in her thoughts.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” said Beth. “I don’t know anything about her age, but I know on the day she was good enough to win gold.”