BBC BLOGS - Ollie Williams

Archives for April 2010

Tweddle ready to show British upstarts who's boss

Post categories:

Ollie Williams | 14:35 UK time, Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The European Gymnastics Championships are only halfway through and, already, Britain's men have torn up records books on their way to team silver and an individual gold for Daniel Keatings. The woman everyone now expects to keep this British run of form going is ol' reliable herself, Beth Tweddle.

Tweddle, double European gold medallist in Milan last year (in her two specialist events, the floor and asymmetric bars), went on to win the floor world title in London last October. She has just turned 25, but time seems to have lost all meaning for her in a sport where competitors can retire in their teens.

After that World Championship victory, the hunt began to crown the "next Beth Tweddle" - someone who can take on her mantle and become the face of British gymnastics in the way the Liverpudlian has been for the best part of a decade.

But, as London 2012 slowly hoves into view, Tweddle shows no signs of budging. And, at the Europeans in Birmingham this week, she expects to put even more distance between her and the chasing pack.

Read the rest of this entry

'Seismic leap' for Britain's men strengthens Olympic belief

Post categories:

Ollie Williams | 18:30 UK time, Sunday, 25 April 2010

A team silver medal, five junior gold medals and a one-two on the pommel horse at the weekend's European Championships has British gymnastics buzzing about the potential of its men.

It has never been like this before. People who have been in this sport all their lives remember how, decades ago, a solid performance at international level might have put a British gymnast about 90th. Now, coming away without a medal would be a disappointment.

Getting on the European podium so often, not forgetting all-around silver for Daniel Keatings at last year's World Championships, is one thing. But the transformation of British gymnastics will not be complete until the London Games in two years' time.

How carried away should Britain be getting with this unprecedented success? Should you expect to see the Union Jack being hoisted into the rafters of the O2 Arena in 2012? One of the British team's top coaches believes so.

Read the rest of this entry

Britain's male gymnasts have plenty to prove

Post categories:

Ollie Williams | 11:04 UK time, Thursday, 22 April 2010

Welcome to Birmingham's National Indoor Arena, where we're about to get our first chance this year to see how Britain's gymnasts plan on bettering an amazing 2009.

Daniel Keatings won silver in the men's all-around competition at the World Championships, in London last October, a result barely anybody forecast and one he readily admits even he hadn't expected.

That was bettered the following day by Beth Tweddle, that megastar of British gymnastics who refuses to leave the spotlight, when she became world champion in the women's floor event.

Not everybody had the 2009 they wanted, though.

Louis Smith, the first British gymnast in 80 years to win an Olympic medal and a man who puts a rare swagger into his sport, fell off the pommel horse - his specialist event - at the World Championships.

Smith, who turns 21 as the men's European Championships begin, needs to pick up the pieces, and Keatings has to prove his place on the world podium was no fluke. Last year may have been a belter, but 2010 is already shaping up to be a bigger test. And the examination begins on home soil on Friday.

Read the rest of this entry

How to become a modern pentathlete - and why

Post categories:

Ollie Williams | 17:23 UK time, Monday, 12 April 2010

When politicians and leading lights bang on for the umpteenth time about their commitment to "grass-roots" sport, it always comes down to one thing: accessibility.

Jumpers for goalposts in every park. A cricket bat in each child's hand. Free swimming. Junior tennis. A way in as the beating heart of any sport.

The way into most sports is fairly obvious. Even the decathlon, with 10 disciplines to master, broadly involves events you might have tried at sports day growing up. (Though I've occasionally wondered how one tries pole vault for the first time - presumably you can't just grab a pole and declare, "I've seen it done.")

Modern pentathlon, on the other hand, demands five very different talents from its athletes, several of which Britain's youngsters are simply not exposed to on a regular basis.

You need to run and swim. Fine, we can tick those boxes, runners and swimmers abound. Show jumping is doable. Fencing and shooting? Trickier. All five? Come on, now.

Is it really that hard, though? How do you become a modern pentathlete, and could you be doing that instead of sitting and reading this?

Read the rest of this entry

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.