Gymnastics: Beth Tweddle quits a year after London bronze
A YEAR to the day after completing her list of honours with an Olympic medal, Beth Tweddle yesterday called time on her competitive career after fulfilling a dream at London 2012.
The 28-year-old from Cheshire took time to reflect following her uneven bars bronze at the 02 Arena last summer, before deciding it was right to bow out at the top after realising her mind and body were no longer able to cope with the demands of training and competition.
"It's a strange sense, knowing I've finally bitten the bullet and announced my retirement," Tweddle said.
"I needed that time just to know I was making the right decision.
"It took me 20 years to achieve that dream and it meant so much to me to be there."
Tweddle, who has joined cyclists Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton and swimmer Rebecca Adlington in opting to retire post-London 2012, was a trailblazer for British gymnastics.
In 2002, aged 17, she won Commonwealth Games gold in Manchester and in 2006 she claimed the first of three world titles, becoming the first Briton to win gold at a World Artistic Gymnastics Championship.
She had unfinished business in the Olympic arena after finishing fourth in the uneven bars at the 2008 Games in Beijing and that spurred her on. "I went to the 2004 Olympics, I was inspired by it," she said.
"I wasn't just inspired to become an Olympian, I was inspired to bring home a medal.
"Beijing didn't quite happen, but I knew I had to keep that dream alive and go for 2012.
"I always knew in my heart, deep down, that I couldn't walk away from London.
"If I was fit I was going to go to that Olympic Games. I had to know that in 10 years' time that I had tried for that medal. I knew I had one dream I still wanted to achieve."
The Beth Tweddle Academy will form part of a national programme to provide the opportunity for as many children as possible to take up gymnastics, within schools, leisure centres and gymnastics clubs to help develop the sport around the country.
It is run by Total Gymnastics, which was set up by Tweddle and Steve Parry, the former Olympic swimmer, and is about participation, first and foremost.
"I want children to have that door-step opportunity to have a go at gymnastics," Tweddle said.