Great Britain’s Olympic Hopes
The London 2012 Olympics kick off in just over three months time and Team GB are poised to score their highest ever finish at the games following a fruitful buildup and training preparations.
At the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo, which served as a qualifier for the Olympics, the British girls finished eighth, securing their place in sports most prestigious competition. Exactly which girls will make up the team is yet to be decided. Trials will be held in July, where five girls and two alternates will realise their dream.
One gymnast, who barring injury is already a certainty for the team is Britain’s most decorated gymnast of all time, Beth Tweddle. The three time World Champion is putting behind her the disappointments of Beijing and Athens to focus on improving her bar and floor routines in order to help her team and achieve a goal which has so far eluded her long and glittering career, an Olympic medal.
The British team have improved dramatically over the last decade, claiming a higher position at every Olympic Games since first qualifying a full team in 2000. Thanks in no small part to the efforts of Tweddle who has captained the team for the majority of the last decade. However, the 26 year old was quick to point out in an interview with the Mail On Sunday that she is no longer the teams only hope, stating: “We now have serious medal contenders in a number of events.”
With the likes of Hannah Whelan, Danusia Francis, Jennifer Pinches and Rebecca Tunney all aiming to improve their routines, as well as 2008 Olympian Becky Downie and 2010 European medallist Nicole Hibbert fighting their way back to full strength after long term injuries, the selectors will have a wide range of options when choosing their Olympic team.
Another possibility could be the return of 2008 Olympian Marissa King. The 20 year old from Cambridgeshire who is studying at and competing for the university of Florida would be a big help to the team on Vault particularly. She currently competes a 1.5 twisting Tsukahara which scores considerably higher than the rest of the teams potential vaults.
Bars will be the apparatus Britain will look towards to seriously gain marks against their competitors. Two time uneven bars World Champion Tweddle recently unveiled a new dismount at the English Championships, a double twisting double back. Her total D score at this competition was 7.0 but being her first of the year, and based on the fact her routine at last years Worlds with the old dismount had a D score of 7.1, upgrades will surely be made in the future. Former European finalist Downie has been making positive noises on Twitter lately about revitalising her skills on bars and there are plenty more solid routines within the team.
The full story will become clear after the European Championships in May, where we will learn what upgrades the gymnasts are competing. At this stage, it’s safe to say that any number of the potential team members are in with a shot at beating their previous best finish of ninth in the team competition.