Fitness / 08.08.2016

Life lessons: Beth Tweddle

By Francesca Specter
'Be determined – don’t let obstacles get in your way'

The nation rejoiced when gymnast Beth Tweddle won her first Olympic medal at London 2012. We look back at our interview with her in the January/February 2014 issue of Healthy, where she talked about achieving goals, regardless of setbacks.

Beth Tweddle olympic gymnast 2012

Beth, you officially retired last summer, which must be a big change of lifestyle. How are you finding it?
I’m busy! I’m trying lots of challenging and fun activities I couldn’t do when I was in training due to fear of injury. It feels like I’m nine years old again. But I miss the competitive side. I still go to the gym to keep fit and healthy.

It took you a famously long time to get that Olympic medal. How did you stay so focused?
Wanting an Olympic medal drove me. [Beth was the first British female gymnast to win an Olympic medal when she won bronze on the uneven bars in London 2012, at the relatively mature age of 27]. But you can’t wait four years to hit your goals, you have to break it down into lots of short-term targets. How that translates now into my everyday life is that I still skate after winning Dancing On Ice [in March 2013] and my current goal is to jump on the ice. I’m also training for a 5K run.

What’s your advice for setting goals?
You can’t control what other people do, so set your own targets. I tell young gymnasts to compete with themselves – so I might say, don’t leave the gym until you can do a double-back somersault.

What’s your biggest disappointment?
Missing out on a medal in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 by 0.25 points. It was just not meant to be my time. But had I got a medal, would I have gone on to London 2012? It made me stronger. Everything happens for a reason.

What makes you happy?
I love being around family and friends – something I couldn’t do much of when I was always training and travelling. They just know who I am and accept me.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Stubborn, determined and bubbly.

How’s your diet – any guilty treats?
I love sweets! But I eat a balanced, healthy diet – a good breakfast of porridge or scrambled eggs, a big lunch and a small dinner. I don’t eat late and I vary my diet.

Does it annoy you that gymnastics hasn’t been as well paid or high profile as other sports?
If I was in it for the fame or fortune, I wouldn’t have stuck at it. I love gymnastics. Being on the bars is the closest you can get to flying. I get recognised more now – people still talk about the London Olympics and where they were when they watched me.

Do you have any regrets?
No. When I was at school, I had to miss parties and social events, which was hard. But I look back and realise I’ve seen the world and done so much.

How did you handle injury setbacks?
Injuries are part of sport. I’ve always had a BUPA policy and immediate physio help. Just 100 days before London 2012 I had a sore knee, and within 48 hours it had been operated on.

What’s your proudest moment?
Getting bronze at London 2012 was a highlight, but my World Artistic Gymnastics Championships wins meant a lot, too [Beth is a triple World Champion, having won on bars in 2006 and 2010, and floor in 2009]. And I’m proud of my company Total Gymnastics, which is for kids from age two. It isn’t competitive, although if we see potential in a child, we send them to a club. I tried many sports, but loved gymnastics – I want to give kids that. When I show them they can win, I feel proud. Self-belief is hard to teach.

What one message would you like to give people?
Be determined – don’t let obstacles get in your way. I’ve had a lot of disappointment, but I didn’t let that stop me.


Inspired by Beth’s approach? Tweet us or tag us on Facebook and Instagram – we love to hear from you!

Life lessons: Beth Tweddle
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Life lessons: Beth Tweddle
Read our interview with retired Olympian Beth Tweddle, the most successful gymnast in history, on resilience and how to achieve goals. Learn Beth's secrets.
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