The current crop of GB gymnasts has just returned from the World Championships in Rotterdam and can lay claim to being the most successful team ever:
•Team GB finish 5th overall in the final medal table
•Beth Tweddle, the queen of British Gymnastics, continues to amaze by claiming her 3rd World gold medal on the A-Bars, adding to her golds on floor in 2009 and A-bars in 2006
•Louis Smith claims Silver to add to his World Bronze from 2007 in the Pommel Horse Final
•Daniel Purvis claims his first ever world medal after finishing 3rd in the Men’s Floor Final
•Team GB’s men finish 7th in their first ever World Team Final after qualifying in an impressive 4th
•Team GB’s women finish 7th in their World Team Final
•Imogen Cairns finishes 8th in the Womans Vault Final
•Daniel Purvis and Sam Hunter place 5th and 9th respectively in the Men’s All Around Final
•Hannah Whelan and Nicole Hibbert place 16th and 22nd in the Women’s All Around Final
Never before has British gymnastics had such huge success at a major championships and our sport really is in good shape going into an Olympic year.
On top of all of this I had the privilege of supporting Team GB from the commentary box in Rotterdam courtesy of the BBC. In my first ever BBC assignment, I got to watch all the proceedings as they unfolded live sitting next to Gabby Logan in the best seat in the house.
The week prior to the World Championships, the BBC asked if I would be interested in presenting the Gymnastics World Championships as their normal presenter Matt Baker, also a former gymnast, is participating in Strictly Come Dancing.
I jumped at the chance. Not only would it give me experience in presenting, but I was also really struggling to get hold of tickets for Rotterdam as they had sold out in June. On top of this I knew that we were sending a really strong team especially after recent successes at last year’s World Championships and this year’s European Championships – so it really was my last chance to get to watch it live.
I caught my plane early morning and landed in Rotterdam at 11.30am when I was whisked away to my first assignment. British Gymnastics and Glasgow City Council were presenting their bid to host the 2015 Gymnastics World Championships to the FIG (Federation of International Gymnastics) at midday.
As soon as the presentation finished I was chauffeured to the Ahoy Arena for the Men’s Team Final. I was really excited as the team had qualified in an unprecedented 4th position, and was in with a real chance of a medal for the first time ever.
It got better – not only was I commentating on my teammates in their first ever team final, but instead of commentating from the press box I was given an access-all-areas pass. My objective was to give a running commentary from the actual podium in amongst Team GB as they fought for a medal!
The boys put in an absolutely awesome display but they just couldn’t quite match the performance from the qualification rounds and finished the competition in 7th. This is something we had only ever dreamed of before but now it was reality. The boys have certainly put the Great into Great Britain and cemented our position as one of the top gymnastics nations.
Today we had the Men’s and Women’s All Around Finals, and I was alongside Gabby Logan in the commentary box. Again Team GB put in a stellar performance, with two gymnasts qualifying for both the Men’s and Women’s All Around Finals.
Daniel Purvis put in an awesome display with real maturity and was chasing the leading gymnasts all the way, only to just miss out on a medal and finish 5th, Sam Hunter also proved himself a top All Around gymnast by finishing 9th at his first attempt.
Hannah Whelan and Nicole Hibbert also showed some excellent gymnastics in their All Around final, finishing 16th and 22nd respectively.
An absolutely amazing day for British Gymnastics. It started with the Men’s Floor competition. The outstanding Daniel Purvis, who was having the competition of his life, secured his first ever world medal by taking bronze on floor – I am so proud of him.
Imogen Cairns finished 8th in the Women’s Vault final, an amazing achievement as she has had a difficult time with injury since Beijing.
Next up, Louis Smith claimed silver in the Pommel Horse final narrowly missing the gold; an awesome performance, especially after his disappointment last year. This left everyone in the commentary box asking the dreaded question – could we really get the full set; gold, silver and bronze?
You bet we could! Beth Tweddle, the Queen of British Gymnastics, had only gone and won the A-bars gold for the second time! Beth is now a Triple World Champion; just how many people can say that?
With no one representing Team GB in the finals on Sunday it gave me and Gabby the opportunity to interview our record-breaking gymnasts as we watched and commentated on the remaining finals. There was still some very exciting gymnastics, especially in the Men’s High Bar, which saw the local hero Epke Zonderland narrowly miss out on the gold and finish with silver after Zhang Chenglong took the title at the last minute.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the BBC for making my first foray into commentating a really enjoyable one, especially the talented Gabby Logan. It was a real pleasure.
Well done to everyone in Team GB. I am so honoured to have been a part of it even if it was only in commentary.