Beth Tweddle hailed her gold medal at the gymnastics world championships in London yesterday as the biggest achievement of her career.
The 24-year-old from Liverpool bounced back from her failure to reach the final in her strongest event, the uneven bars, with a superb display in the floor exercise to win her second world title. After suffering a fall in qualifying on the uneven bars, which she won in 2006, Tweddle performed a near-faultless routine to triumph on the floor at the O2 Arena.
"Winning the bars in 2006 was pretty good, but with it being on home ground and not on my signature piece, I think this probably is the top [achievement]," she said. "My mum, my dad, my house-mate, my gym friends, everyone is here, so at least afterwards I'll be able to celebrate with them."
The European champion was the first gymnast to take to the floor, but showed no nerves as she posted a score of 14.650 in front of a packed house. Her routine was the hardest in the competition and she watched on as her rivals were unable to surpass her tally.
There was a long delay following an injury to Colombian Jessica Gil Ortiz, who left the arena on a stretcher after landing on her neck, but Australian Lauren Mitchell stayed focused to score 14.550 and claim her second silver of the day, after coming second on the beam. China's Sui Lu secured bronze with a score of 14.300.
Tweddle, who had almost fallen in Wednesday's qualification, was unsure if she had done enough to secure gold.
"I was a bit disappointed with the actual score," she said. "Normally you know what is a good score and what is not, but in this championship everything has been a bit different. I think I was more nervous waiting for everyone's results than I was to do my own floor routine. On Wednesday it was just a bad day at the office, you could tell that from the bar routine.
"My floor routine wasn't the best that I could have done and I proved that by doing a better one [in the final].
"Everyone expects me to medal on bars. To come out with a world title on floor, it shows I'm not just a one-piece gymnast." The medal was Britain's second of the championship, following Daniel Keatings' silver in the men's all-around event, but Tweddle admitted Louis Smith's disappointment in Saturday's pommel horse final had increased her determination.
"I saw him last night and he was really upset," she added. "Seeing his disappointment spurs you on because you want to go out and do it for the British camp. At least we've got a couple of medals from this competition.
The British team have been cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd at the O2 Arena, which will also host gymnastics at the London Olympics, and Tweddle said she enjoyed the support.
"Normally you go away and you have got a couple of British flags, so to hear the whole arena pretty much shouting for you is the best feeling."