Gymnastics: Beth Tweddle hails 'amazing' achievements of Team GB


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The Independent Online

Gymnast Beth Tweddle has hailed the "amazing" achievements of her Great Britain team-mates ahead of tomorrow's Olympic team final at the North Greenwich Arena.

Tweddle was the undoubted star of the show during qualification, first wowing the crowd with an entertaining floor routine to James Bond theme 'Live and Let Die', before she produced a stunning uneven bars performance which secured her a place in the apparatus final.

However, the British team - Tweddle, Imogen Cairns, Hannah Whelan, Rebecca Tunney and Jennifer Pinches - also qualified fifth in the team event behind powerhouses United States, Russia, China and Romania to book their place in a team final.

It was the first time a British women's team had qualified for the final since 1984.

"They've done amazingly well," Tweddle said of her team-mates.

"There's so much talent. Hannah Whelan, she took two European bronze medals [on the floor and beam] - only the second person in Great Britain to take a European medal. And Rebecca, she's just 15 years of age and she's walked into an arena of I don't know how many thousand people.

"Hannah went out and did double twisting Yurchenko [in qualification] which she's never competed on a full podium before.

"Then our bars team total was the best I think we've ever recorded as a Great Britain team. We can't ask for more than that."

Tweddle also reserved praise for Cairns, the second most experienced member of the team.

She said: "Imogen is clean and consistent. That's why they put her up first on beam.

"She's been to major championships, she knows what the pressure is like and she knows how to handle that pressure.

"With Hannah and Jenni with great all-around displays it worked perfectly."

Tweddle believes the close bond between the gymnasts, with Tunney, Whelan, Pinches and herself all training at the same gym in Liverpool, means they can compete even better as a team.

"We are practically sisters," the three-time world champion said. "We know each other inside out.

"As someone said the other day, you know how to cheer them up and if someone's getting a bit giddy you know how to pull them back down to earth."

The British women narrowly missed out on a place in the women's team final four years ago in Beijing after they finished in ninth - one place outside of the qualification spots.

The scoring system changes from qualification to the final, with three gymnasts from every team competing on each piece of apparatus and all three scores counting towards the overall total.

It means there is no margin for error and Tweddle thinks a medal is still slightly out of Britain's reach in the team event.

"Medals are realistic individually," Tweddle said.

"In the team final you've got USA, China, Russia and Romania. They are the powerhouses of gymnastics and to be honest, unless they have major falls and we go superbly clean we're not quite at that level.

"We finished fifth at the World Championships so if we can retain that we will be over the moon."