Gymnastics: Beth Tweddle eyes Olympic medal as men's success eases the pressure


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The Independent Online

Beth Tweddle admits the success of the British men's team has eased the pressure on her shoulders as she looks to win the only prize that has eluded her throughout her illustrious career - an Olympic medal.

Great Britain made history two days ago when they won their first men's Olympic team medal in a century at the North Greenwich arena.

The women's team, which Tweddle captained, were unable to emulate their achievement yesterday, but they left the arena with their heads held high after securing sixth position - the best finish by the team in the post-war era.

With the whole gymnastics squad needing one medal to reach their UK Sport target, a lot of pressure had been riding on Tweddle and Beijing bronze medallist Louis Smith, but the British woman is now in a more relaxed mood ahead of her appearance in the final of the uneven bars on Monday.

"The one medal the boys won kind of takes the pressure off me and Louis," said Tweddle, who finished 10th and fourth in her last two Olympics.

"Had they not got that it would be all about our finals, but now we can go out there and enjoy it."

Britain's women were never expected to challenge the traditional gymnastic powerhouses yesterday, and their score of 170.495 was well below that recorded by winners United States.

But the fact that the finish was the best placing since 1928 left the team of Tweddle, Hannah Whelan, Imogen Cairns, Rebecca Tunney and Jennifer Pinches beaming with pride as they left Greenwich last night.

Tweddle admitted the bronze-medal winning efforts of the men inspired her team to put in their impressive display.

"It was really inspiring," said the Cheshire-based three-time world champion.

"We saw them go out and they were really chilled and loved the atmosphere.

"They just said to us: 'Use the crowd to your max,' and we did."

Whelan said she was delighted to make up for the team's performance four years ago when they finished ninth, missing out on the final by one position.

"We really enjoyed the competition and it was a fantastic result," the 20-year-old from Stockport said.

"We have improved on four years ago and to come sixth is just an amazing achievement.

"We were so disappointed in Beijing. We were gutted. We were so close then so to qualify fifth and then to come sixth in the final is just fantastic.

"It's a great achievement for the GB team."