Beth Tweddle: Women's Gymnast Is Key to Great Britain's All-Around Medal Hopes
Considering Beth Tweddle has gone from keyhole surgery recipient to Team Great Britain's most valuable women's gymnast, it's safe to say she's had a successful three months of recovery.
Any negative effects from the knee surgery have been unidentifiable so far during the London games for Tweddle.
The British gymnast and her team finished with the fifth best total during the team all-around qualifying rounds, getting the better of Canada, Japan and Italy.
Her early London success also includes her first place qualifying mark in the uneven bars with a commanding performance in a field that included the event's defending Olympic champion, He Kexin.
The Brits are not as star-studded as say the Russians or Americans are in the team event, but that doesn't mean they don't have a chance. Tweddle spoke with the Agence France-Presse about the upcoming competition:
There's America, China, Russia, Romania, they're your powerhouses of women's gymnastics. We're a step below that, unfortunately, but we're moving up the ranks. Four years ago we couldn't even make it to a team final and now we've clearly made it.
The 27-year-old gymnast is realistic about her team's chances, as evidence in her above comments, but she makes an interesting point in that last sentence.
At the Beijing Games, Great Britain failed to qualify for the team finals. Now the team finds itself entering the finals with better qualifying scores than a 2008 finals participant in Japan as well as two other countries.
That sounds like a team on the rise. In this sport that should not be overlooked. This rise will have to continue without their star after London, however.
Tweddle told Mark Blunden of The Independent that this will "definitely" be her last Olympic Games, which makes sense considering her age. The entire Team USA squad is made up of teenagers, which goes to show that women's gymnastics is a young athlete's sport.
Still, this is a British squad that could surprise and compete for the bronze medal if their star in Tweddle can continue her early London success and the other members follow suit with their leader.
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