Olympics gymnastics: Beth Tweddle wins bronze medal

 

Great Britain's Beth Tweddle won a medal at last in the final Olympic appearance of her gymnastics career.

Tweddle's score of 15.916 took bronze in her uneven bars final after a decade pursuing an elusive Olympic medal.

The 27-year-old has four world titles and is the most decorated GB gymnast in history. A step back on landing may have cost her higher honours.

Russia's Aliya Mustafina won the gold medal ahead of Beijing 2008 champion He Kexin of China.

Beth Tweddle career medals

Mustafina scored a massive 16.133 to win the title, a mark Tweddle had herself posted in qualifying at London 2012.

"Everyone kept saying to me, 'You're a great champ, it doesn't matter what happens today.' I kept trying to tell myself that but I knew if I walked out of here without a medal, I'd have been really disappointed," Tweddle told BBC Sport.

"I knew the crowd would be good and I got a lot of texts this morning from people saying they were behind me and rooting for me, and that calmed me down.

"I know I've done the years of hard work, my coach has too, and she'd have been as gutted as me if we'd come away with nothing."

London 2012 marks Tweddle's final outing at this level. She has endured agony to reach this point, her body breaking down in a sport that usually spits out gymnasts by their early twenties at best.

The City of Liverpool gymnast slept with an ice machine strapped to her leg for much of this year to calm the swelling from training, and long ago abandoned two of the four pieces of apparatus in women's gymnastics to preserve her fitness for the bars and floor.

"This is definitely my last Olympics," she confirmed.

"It was a tremendous routine by Beth. She went for the big dismount, and knew she had to go for maximum difficulty, and her work on the apparatus was superb. To get a medal is a wonderful moment for Beth and British gymnastics."

"I'm not totally retiring straight away. It would be too much on my mind and body just to stop.

"The federation have said I can keep training a bit, so I can decide what I want to do rather than make drastic decisions."

While she did not reach the floor final at her home Games, her bars routine was the best in qualifying and she replicated that scintillating form for nine-tenths of her performance in the final.

But two large steps back following her landing were enough to end her challenge for the Olympic title.

Asked if she might dwell on that moment, Tweddle said: "Do you know what? I don't care. Coming into London 2012 I had a few different routines. I went with that one; it could have gone totally wrong, and it didn't.

"I landed on my feet, I've got a medal around my neck and that's all I'm bothered about."

Mustafina, the 2010 all-around world champion, came through a serious knee injury in 2011 to reach London 2012 and was a deserving gold medallist. He scored 15.933 behind her.

Watch Tweddle speaking about winning a bronze medal

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