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Now the Brits have belief

Gabby Logan nee Yorath

Archive - Gabby Logan's 1990 routine

Gabby Logan
By Gabby Logan
BBC Sport presenter at the World Gymnastics

Great Britain head to this week's World Championships with serious medal contenders among their ranks.

But when I was a gymnast, we had no such thing.

I don't remember ever starting gymnastics. I just always did it.

By the age of 10 or 11 I realised I was best-suited to rhythmic gymnastics, where you work with items like hoops, clubs, ribbons, balls and rope, rather than the artistic side, which is what you'll see in London this week.

In 1990, I represented Wales in rhythmic gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games.

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Becky Downie competing at Beijing 2008

My Dad, Terry Yorath, rang the editor of the South Wales Echo to find out if I was in the team, because the Welsh Gymnastics Association weren't going to tell us before the announcement was published.

It was a nerve-wracking moment when he rang the number. It was something I'd worked on for so long.

I'd completed the Junior European Championships the year before and had loved competing in a big arena, on a big stage. I wanted that environment again.

When I got to New Zealand to compete in the Commonwealths I was 16, still a young kid really, and I'd only ever seen all the other girls on videos of previous competitions, watching as a fan.

Lining up next to them seemed very exotic. We seemed so far behind these girls that there was a sense of awe, which is not great when you are supposed to think of yourself as being among them.

We definitely didn't back in 1990 - it was them and us.

Louis Smith's guide to the pommel horse

Louis Smith's guide to the pommel horse

Now, the British gymnasts will feel they have the right to be on the medal rostrum, not just in the stadium.

There will be competitors from countries who haven't had as strong a time in gymnastics recently, and now they will be the ones looking up to the likes of Louis Smith or Beth Tweddle.

In the last five or six years, Britain has started to produce world class gymnasts, with more following on behind them.

In Daniel Keatings we have a European silver medallist, Louis is an Olympic bronze medallist, and Beth is a world champion.

It's like the four-minute mile: it takes somebody to break through the barrier, then others will follow. By all accounts we also have some great juniors pushing the seniors.

Now there is a belief among these gymnasts.

They are competing at the O2 Arena, where the Olympic Games will be held in three years, and they know the road to that Olympics starts here.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Ollie Williams

I expect medals and in some the individual finals I hope a gold or two. Beth would want to be up there, and there's no reason why Louis and Daniel shouldn't have that ambition.

No matter what happens, Britain has produced a crop of gymnasts who are becoming household names - I've seen a lot of Louis in the papers over the last few weeks, which is great.

But they need to throw everything at this World Championships.

It is a huge event, in a massive arena more used to hosting the likes of U2, and that says a lot about British gymnastics right now.

Back in 1990, I crumbled at the Commonwealths. I performed within myself because the stage overwhelmed me, and I missed out on the finals.

But I look back now and it was the greatest experience of my young life.

I'd do it all again tomorrow, even if I would never have reached Olympic standard.

Today's British stars have a great stage, and in the next few days they can show us just what their intentions are.

Gabby Logan was speaking to BBC Sport's Ollie Williams



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see also
Impressive Smith through to final
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Gymnasts to watch at Worlds
08 Oct 09 |  Gymnastics
Smith to try new routine at Worlds
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Tweddle to lead British line-up
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Tweddle holds on to Olympic dream
26 Jun 09 |  Gymnastics
Gymnast wins US TV dancing show
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Gymnastics on the BBC
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Get involved in gymnastics
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Gymnastics results
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