It was only three months ago that gymnastics star Beth Tweddle had keyhole surgery on her knee and considered her Olympic dream over.
Today, however, she has her eye on medals after a remarkable reversal of fortune.
Tweddle completed a near flawless uneven bars routine in qualifying over the weekend to take the British women into this afternoon’s team final for the first time since 1984.
Her routine also secured her place in the uneven bars final next Monday — where she has high hopes of improving on the fourth place she achieved in Beijing four years ago.
She said: “It was the best feeling in the world, I can’t even put it into words, I was unbelievably nervous. I have not been able to sleep for the past three weeks. I am just pleased to be here. Twelve weeks ago I didn’t think I would be walking into this arena so it’s just the icing on the cake to reach the final.”
In April, Tweddle, 27, complained of a sore knee and a scan sent to a specialist in Italy revealed torn tissue. She was brought to London from her home in Cheshire for emergency keyhole surgery. After the procedure on a Friday, she went straight into rehab on Monday, working on the knee from 9am until 6pm every day.
Defying the odds, Tweddle was soon back competing and won an Olympic trial on the uneven bars in Ipswich last month, after which she was declared fit for the Great Britain squad.
She was so scared of missing out on a place that she even slept with a cold pack over her knee at night to prevent swelling.
Tweddle was in a petrol station when she got the call to say she had been selected for Team GB. She said: “To get that call to say you’re on the team is a massive relief. I was getting petrol with one of my friends when I heard. We knew we had a two-hour slot but I was just going crazy waiting around the house —there was a sigh of relief and then I thought who can I ring?”
Tweddle has undergone around six operations on her feet for impact injuries during her 20-year career. She has three world, six European and seven British titles to her name, but this is her last chance of Olympic glory. She said: “You’ve got to believe that medal can be yours.”
Tweddle hopes the home crowd will drive her to victory. She said: “They give you that bit of adrenaline and hype and you want to be able to do that routine for yourself, but also for them.
“When you’re abroad you’ve got a few people in the audience — your mum and dad, your other competitors, your other team mates. Here, everyone’s going to know it’s happening and the whole country are going to be behind us, which makes it all the more special.”
Tweddle has previously called London “definitely my last Olympics”, but has not made any firm retirement plans. She said: “Usually, after two weeks’ holiday, I’m itching to get back.”