The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Beth Tweddle

This will be brief brief brief because I have to study biochemistry (which is clearly going very well).

On December 1st, the Times published an article citing evidence that gymnasts suffer “a broad constellation of injuries” to joints causing inflamed cartilage and stress fractures, things that could lead even to necrosis.

Anyway, some doctors wrote in from the National Osteoporosis Society to report on their own study, which shows that girls 8-17 engaged in “high intensity gymnastic training” had bone densities 13-28 percent higher than matched controls. They also didn’t find evidence of stunted growth or that gymnasts were not receiving adequate nutrition.

Overtraining is a real risk in gymnastics because of the early start age. You don’t see many football players being home-schooled. But honestly, I haven’t read the American study, and media reports about studies tend to be misleading at best. In either case, I think it’s telling that they then go on to say that “Previous studies have suggested that the rate of injury in gymnastics is almost as severe as that in contact sports.” Almost as severe? Sounds to me like gymnastics is still better!

On the other hand, one should also be skeptical of the other study (and of any study that one hasn’t read — someone recently found that some massive percentage of medical studies were misreported in the media). Naturally, the “stunted growth” question is a sticking point in the gymnastics community — it’s the classic chicken-or-egg question: which came first, gymnastics, or short height? But there is conclusive evidence that high-level sports delay puberty, and I think that suggesting that elite-level gymnastics has no effect on development is laughable.

And finally a place to sneak in this tidbit: while Chellsie Memmel has been on her fruit-and-chicken diet, what has Beth Tweddle been eating? According to this article, lunch might be lasagna, spaghetti bolognese or sweet-and-sour chicken. Dinner could be soup-and-sandwich or a “chicken and bacon salad.” It’s never been clear to me that the level of intensity and craziness of American gymnastics has reached across the pond, and on that note, who were the subjects of the NOS study? It’s not clear that British gymnasts have been subjected to the same harsh diets we see in some American gyms, and certainly former Soviet gyms, so it’s not clear to me how translatable the findings might be. Certainly it’s interesting that the positive findings come out of Britain while the negative ones come out of the the United States.

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British Gymnastics at some point posted this interview with Beth Tweddle. There’s no date, but it seems pretty recent.

Beth Tweddle for 2012?

Beth Tweddle for 2012?

Anyway, a few notes:

  • She’s back in training at Liverpool, with Jennifer Pinches and Hannah Whelan
  • She’s definitely planning for Euros 2009
  • She will specialize only on vault uneven bars and floor
  • She’s looking forward to competing in London 2009 (Worlds)
  • She is hoping for 2012: “There’s a slight bit of “Yes” coming out now”

No update on Anna Pavlova just now, but some news on Rebecca Bross, Deng Linlin, Beth Tweddle and Dariya Zgoba, who are all injured.

Rebecca Bross:

I have finally confirmed for myself the long-circulating rumor that Bross’s injury at the most recent training camp was not minor, as originally suggested, but actually a fairly serious injury that could have her out for all of next season. Also, as I understand it, it was not to the leg that has caused her trouble in the past, but was an acute trauma to her knee on her good leg. Too bad, especially since a lot of people were expecting a big senior debut at the American Cup.

ETA: I’ve since heard that the surgery was to remove a bone chip, but I can’t confirm that.

Deng Linlin:

Deng Linlin apparently had fairly serious surgery and will not be participating in any competitions for the rest of the year.

Beth Tweddle:

Tweddle recently had a shoulder operation according to British Gymnastics (see here), explaining her absence on the WCF roster.

Dariya Zgoba:

Slightly more interestingly, Zgoba had to scratch at the Glasgow Grand Prix and the DTB Cup because of an injury, and then was scheduled to have surgery. Either she had it in October and is sufficiently healed to participate in the WCF, or she has postponed it.

Unsurprisingly, China has named Cheng Fei, He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Jiang Yuyuan and Li Shanshan to participate in the 2008 World Cup Final in Madrid. (See here.)

This FIG press release also confirms the participation of Sandra Izbasa, Elena Zamolodchikova and Suzanne Harmes. But it also notes the absence of Anna Pavlova and Oksana Chusovitina. I also assume that Ksenia Semenova won’t be present, but can’t confirm that at this point.

Some thoughts:

Vault:

With Chusovitina (who is ranked first) and Pavlova (ranked third) out, Cheng has the vault nearly locked up unless Zamolodchikova has massively improved since her performance at the DTB Cup. Alicia Sacramone is also up there in this ranking, followed by Jade Barbosa — neither will be there. Hong Un Jong may be the only real competition. And if that’s the case, I think Cheng can assume that this one is in the bag.

Uneven bars:

He is ranked only sixth right now on bars, but she’s the front-runner, with Yang second unless Beth Tweddle shows up. Nastia Liukin will obviously not be there, and I’m pretty sure Semenova is out as well. Dariya Zgoba is ranked high (second) but can’t truly compete against the Chinese start values.

Beam:

I think at this point, I might consider calling this for Cheng too. Pavlova, Johnson and Liukin are among the top eight, and won’t be there. Steliana Nistor is also out, and wouldn’t have taken first anyway, in all likelihood. Catalina Ponor, who is currently ranked first, hasn’t shown up in international competition in a while, so I don’t know what kind of shape she is in. Cheng’s biggest competition is likely to come from other Chinese women, and notably Li.

Floor:

This will likely be the most interesting battle, and it will probably play out among Cheng, Izbasa and — to a lesser extent — Jiang. Harmes is ranked tenth on floor, but I don’t think she has a chance at the podium with these players, unless we see a major mistake. Zamolodchikova could also theoretically compete on floor, but only if she’s in much better shape by mid-December.

Beth Tweddle, 2006 Worlds bar champion and the best gymnast to ever come out of Great Britain, has said that she may not retire after all. Before Beijing she was set to retire at 23 after Worlds in London next year. Now she’s saying that finishing fourth is “the worst place to finish” (I would have to agree!) and:

I am at the top of my game at the moment and it is not impossible to go on into my late 20s or even 30s with gymnastics if I stay fit.

She also said, though, that she was officially retired from the all-around, so she would go to London (in 2009 and 2012) as a specialist.

I never thought Tweddle’s bars were that beautiful, she’s certainly no Liukin, and she doesn’t rival the Chinese or Liukin on artistry. But her combination is really amazing, and she does a Shaposhnikova that’s among the best in the business (almost no one keeps her legs together on that thing). And actually she can be graceful on certain skills, including her Pak. I’d be happy to see her continue to 2012.

Here’s a video of Tweddle’s gold-medal performance in Aarhus.


About The C Score

First there was A score and B score, now D score and E score. Where is the C score? Right here. In the form of my random thoughts about women's artistic gymnastics.

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