The British gymnast Beth Tweddle, whose career has been punctuated by injuries, has been all but ruled out of two events at this month's Olympic Games.
The 23-year-old from Bunbury in Cheshire, who became the first Briton to win a world gymnastics title when she took gold in the asymmetric bars at Aarhus in 2006, is suffering from a minor rib injury which prevented her joining her team-mates when they left Team GB's Macau holding camp for Beijing yesterday. The sports science graduate from Liverpool John Moores University plans to join the team on Monday, after making the most of the specialised medical support available to the British team at the camp.
The British gymnastics coach Adrian Stan said that, barring a swift recovery, Tweddle would be limiting her participation at the Games to the team event and her two strongest individual disciplines, the bars and the floor exercises. "She is unlikely to take part in the beam and the vault," he said.
Tweddle, who has said she plans to retire after the world championships that will be held in London next year, had just recovered from an ankle injury which restricted her to competing on the bars at the national championships at the end of June.
Earlier this year the young woman who has world, European and Commonwealth titles to her name gave an indication that she is still a strong Olympic contender by winning silver in the floor exercise at the European Championships and taking fourth place on the bars.
At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Tweddle, the 2002 Commonwealth champion failed to reach the bars final. But a year later she took her second world bronze in the same discipline to set herself up as favourite to win at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. An ankle injury meant Tweddle had to sit those Games out, but later in the year she made up for her disappointment by winning the European title in the bars with a new routine.
The following year she achieved her landmark world success and came third in the public vote for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
In the wake of her world championship victory Tweddle's coach, Amanda Kirby, reflected cautiously on the athlete's chances of being the first Briton to win an Olympic gymnastics medal since Walter Tysal's silver in 1908. "You have to take one event at a time," she said. "There are so many pitfalls."
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