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Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Sunday, 2 May 2010 18:12 UK

Britain's Beth Tweddle wins two European gold medals

Tweddle wins European floor gold

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport in Birmingham

Beth Tweddle defended her two European individual titles in commanding fashion on the last day of the women's European Gymnastics Championships in Birmingham.

Tweddle took uneven bars gold by some distance from Russia's Aliya Mustafina.

The 25-year-old then edged out another Russian, Anna Myzdrikova, on the floor, where she is reigning world champion.

"I'm still getting results but an Olympic medal is the only reason I'm carrying on," said Tweddle, who helped GB's women to team silver on Saturday.

Despite two world championship golds in 2006 and 2009, an Olympic medal has evaded Tweddle, who came an agonising fourth on the bars at the Beijing Games in 2008 having previously appeared at Athens 2004.

Tweddle's double delight at Euro success

"I've got so much to look back over my career and be happy with, but my one aim is an Olympic medal," she said.

"After last night the team were on such a high that it was quite hard to bring ourselves back down. That floor routine was so hard, I just wanted it to end, and I'm glad I've got the week off now."

Sunday's haul means British gymnasts have won 15 medals - seven by seniors, eight by juniors - in the past two weeks of competition at the National Indoor Arena.

By comparison, prior to these championships, Britons had earned a total of 22 European gymnastics medals in their history.

British coaches now have five months to further fine-tune these performances before the 2010 World Championships, to be held in Rotterdam in October.

In the vault, the first of the four individual finals, Britain's Nicole Hibbert placed last of the eight gymnasts as she struggled with her landings.

The 15-year-old, in her first major senior championships, scored 13.500 following a large stumble in her first vault, and sat down her second landing as she attempted to claw back the difference, giving her an average of 13.025.

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The vault was won by Russia's Ekaterina Kurbatova, who recovered from a slightly unsteady first vault to power to an average of 14.287, just 0.012 marks ahead of France's Youna Dufournet, with another Russian, Tatiana Nabieva, in third.

In the uneven bars, the only real doubt about the destination of the European title lay in whether Tweddle, 25, could hang on throughout the entirety of her intense, complicated routine.

Once she had successfully landed at its conclusion, registering a stratospheric score of 15.875, the competition was effectively over.

Russia's Aliya Mustafina, who took silver on bars, scored 15.050, a clear 0.825 behind Tweddle, the equivalent of finishing a 100m final half-a-second behind the winner.

Tweddle's team-mate Becky Downie, whose ice-cool routine on beam proved crucial in guiding Britain to a team silver medal on Saturday, produced another fluid, assertive display to score 14.425 on bars, finishing fifth.

Romania's Amelia Racea held off Mustafina to win the beam final, for which no British gymnasts had qualified, before Tweddle returned to the stage for the day's last event, the floor.

First up was Niamh Rippin who, like Hibbert, was making her major senior individual debut, and she found trouble landing her opening two tumbles, before settling into her routine for a score of 13.400.

That put her joint sixth, but Liverpudlian Tweddle had dominated the event both in qualifying and the team final, and her home crowd had high expectations of another gold medal.

Mustafina, a threat throughout the week, ruled herself out when the 15-year-old had to prop herself up with her hands at the end of one tumble, dropping her score to 13.225.

Next up was Tweddle, and she nearly faltered on her first tumble, keeping her feet just millimetres inside the white line bordering the floor area in which gymnasts may work.

But the rest of her routine proved almost faultless, resulting in a score of 14.825, half a mark ahead of silver medallist, Anna Myzdrikova of Russia.

At last year's worlds in London, Tweddle picked up gold on the floor, while Daniel Keatings took all-around silver in the men's competition.

Britain will now look to improve on that tally at this year's championships.

The sheer number of impressive performances in Birmingham bolsters hopes of more from the squad in Rotterdam, but nations such as the United States and China still pose a threat more formidable than anything the current British crop have faced in Europe.

The team podium, reached for the first time at European level by both the men and women here, may remain out of Britain's reach on the world stage.

But, barring any new injury concerns, they will travel to the Netherlands confident of more individual medals.

Tweddle retains uneven bars title

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see also
Gymnastics results
23 Aug 05 |  Gymnastics
British women win European silver
01 May 10 |  Gymnastics
Tweddle leads GB into Euro final
29 Apr 10 |  Gymnastics
Keatings beats Smith to Euro gold
25 Apr 10 |  Gymnastics
Keatings eyes success at Olympics
26 Apr 10 |  Gymnastics
Junior GB gymnasts win gold and silver
24 Apr 10 |  Gymnastics
GB gymnasts delighted with medal
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GB junior gymnasts retain title
22 Apr 10 |  Gymnastics
Volcano fails to halt European Gymnastics
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Keatings secures historic silver
15 Oct 09 |  Gymnastics
Gymnastics on the BBC
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Get involved in gymnastics
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