BETH Tweddle has confirmed her retirement from gymnastics with immediate effect.
A year to the day after winning Olympic bronze in the uneven bars, the 28-year-old from Cheshire yesterday became the latest London 2012 British medallist to call time on her career.
“It’s been a hard decision to make; gymnastics has been and always will be a massive part of my life,” Tweddle said.
“Following the Olympics, I’ve had a lot of projects on and recently I’ve had a bit more time to get back into the gym and decide whether I could put 100 per cent into it and I know now deep down I can’t commit to the hours and training to remain at the very top.”
The three-time world champion, six-time European champion and seven-time national champion is Britain’s most successful gymnast, and there had been much talk over her possible retirement since she added an Olympic medal to her collection last year. She had already dismissed the possibility of competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and now will not go on to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Tweddle joins cyclists Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton and swimmer Rebecca Adlington in ending her sporting career post-London 2012, while Ben Ainslie announced his retirement from Olympic sailing earlier this year.
“I don’t think my achievements will ever really sink in, but when I do look back I can be very proud of what I’ve done and how I’ve done it,” she added.
She made her announcement yesterday morning at Chobham Academy, a new school which opens next month in East Village, the new residential development on the site of the London 2012 Athletes’ Village.
She announced the first athlete-led legacy programme on the London Olympic site, to be based at Chobham Academy and known as the Beth Tweddle Academy. It will form part of a national programme to provide the opportunity for as many children as possible to take up gymnastics, within schools, leisure centres and gymnastics clubs to help develop the sport around the country, run by Total Gymnastics, which was set up by Tweddle and Steve Parry, the former Olympic swimmer. Tweddle added: “The London 2012 Olympics is where I achieved my lifelong dream and now I hope I can inspire the next generation of youngsters by providing the opportunity for them to try gymnastics.
“I’m honoured that Chobham Academy has chosen to support my academy, and it’s very special for me to be able to do this on the Olympic site.
“The school opens this September and my academy will be starting in mid-October. It will be open to anyone in the local area that wants to come along.
“I want to give every child an opportunity to try gymnastics. I had to try a lot of sports before I found gymnastics. This way, children can have a go; they might love it, they might hate it, but at least we’ve given them the opportunity to try it.”
British Olympic Association chair Lord Sebastian Coe was among those to pay tribute.
He said: “During a remarkable career that has seen her achieve unprecedented success at every level of competition, Beth Tweddle has set a new standard of excellence for British Gymnastics.
“She has been an inspiration and a role model for a generation.”