Gymnastics: Beth Tweddle aims for perfect swansong on the uneven bars


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The Independent Online

It will be a sign-off heavy on emotion, whatever the outcome, when Beth Tweddle seeks, at the age of 27, to become the oldest gymnast in nearly 50 years to win an Olympic medal on the uneven bars today.

It is a measure of her attachment to the sport which has given her three world and six European titles that she is still here. Had Beijing four years ago not been such an unmitigated disappointment – and flying home economy class from China when the medal winners went business is one of her most searing memories – she would probably not have felt the need to drive on towards this day.

The missing Olympic medal still seemed to be beyond her a mere three months ago, when she learned she required keyhole surgery to her knee. The speed of her rehabilitation has surprised the world of gymnastics. "I'm almost back to full fitness on the bars," she said yesterday. The competition will be unyielding as Tweddle prepares for her last tournament of this kind, with the general expectation being that she may still appear at occasional grand prix events. The world uneven bars champion Viktoria Komova, reigning Olympic champion He Kexin of China and newly crowned individual all-around champion, Gabrielle Douglas of the United States, are obstacles when she competes in this afternoon.

"I've changed a lot of things," Tweddle said. "I've got to give it everything. I don't want to walk away thinking, 'I've not achieved and not done my best'."