GYMNASTICS: BETH Tweddle expects her bid for Commonwealth Games glory in Melbourne to be threatened by one of her closest friends.
The 20-year-old gymnast from Bunbury, near Tarporley, jetted out to Melbourne with her England teammates on Monday and was followed two days later by Mel Roberts, who is captaining Wales.
Mel, from Saltney, trains with Beth at the City of Liverpool Gymnastics Club and rooms with her when on duty for Great Britain.
Before flying out to Australia, Beth told The Chronicle why she feels Mel - who was the youngest Welsh gymnast at the last Commonwealth Games in Manchester - is now ready to challenge for a medal.
She said: 'Back in Manchester, Mel was only a baby in gymnastics terms. Now she's got experience of European Championships so she knows what she needs to do to be up there at the top. She's got as much as a medal chance as anyone.
'She'll be one of my main challengers.' Beth, a former pupil at Chester's Queen's School, is one of the world's finest gymnasts and, four years ago, she won gold on the uneven bars as well as two silver medals - in the team and all-round competitions.
Mel helped Wales finish fifth in the team event in Manchester and was 13th in the all-round standings. Her progress over the last four years means she heads into this year's Commonwealths - which begin a week on Wednesday - hoping for a better return.
Mel said: 'I didn't really get nervous last time - I really enjoyed it. I had no pressure, no expectations so I just went out there to enjoy it.
'I'm just going to go out there, do my best and see what happens. I'm not expecting anything.'
Beth and Mel will be joined in Melbourne by three other Liverpool clubmates - sisters Carol and Helen Galashan of Scotland and England's Hannah Clowes.
The girls say their rivalry in Australia will be a friendly one.
Beth, a student at Liverpool John Moores University, said: 'It will be quite strange and we've been talking about it. Obviously we're used to training together but when we're out there we'll be separated out into our own countries. It will be a bit strange.
'You'll be wanting to support them because you've seen how much hard work they've done in the gym but then at the end of the day they're not on your team! It will be a friendly rivalry.'
Mel, who was born in Chester but qualifies for Wales because she lives the other side of the border in Saltney, added: 'We want each other to do really well. We help each other along, but we want our teams to do really well as well so it's quite awkward.
'There's not really been any secrecy - we all talk about it and train together. When we get over there we will still talk to each other.'
As for lining up alongside last year's World Championship bronze medal-winner Beth, Mel said: 'We train together, we go out together and I'll be looking out for her and hoping she does really well.'
One of the favourites for gold in Melbourne, Australia's Monette Russo, is carrying an ankle injury and might not even compete in the Games.