Thoughts on the British Worlds Team

Gymnastics - Media Day - Lilleshall National Sports Centre

The wait was nowhere near as excruciating as the USA’s Worlds Team announcement, although it was a couple of days late but we knew that it would be Friday lunchtime as the BG media team had let us know on Twitter.

The WAG team was announced as:

  • Beth Tweddle
  • Danusia Francis
  • Hannah Whelan
  • Imogen Cairns
  • Jennifer Pinches
  • Laura Edwards
  • Becky Downie
So, let’s take a look at one of the Worlds best gymnastics nations like we did with the USA’s Worlds Team. British Gymnastics currently has a Performance Squad of 16 senior gymnasts. The above mentioned all feature in the squad as well as Lizzie Beddoe, Jocelyn Hunt, Niamh Rippin, Charlotte Lindsley, Nicole Hibbert, Ruby Harold, Rebecca Tunney and Kelly Simm.  To avoid embarrassment, Great Britain must qualify for the London 2012 and would be best doing so at Worlds, not at the Test Event in January 2012. Both the men’s and women’s teams  placed seventh at last years Worlds and will be hoping to place higher this year.  Great Britain probably have the most progressive gymnastics program but once Beth Tweddle retires, the team may suffer. Luckily for these talented gymnast, they have more than talent helping them, they have a terrific support team behind them, pushing them to achieve their best.  Unlike the USA team, this is one very experience team featuring 3 former Olympians.

Beth Tweddle

There was no doubt that the Queen of British Gymnastics, their most successful gymnast in history would not make the squad. They need her bars, after all she is a three time World Champion and they need her floor. Yes, she may only contribute to two events but Beth has what it takes. Take her new tumbling pass for example, a double arabian full out, rumoured to be rated as a “G” skill in the Code of Points. At 26 years old, this girl has still got it. Beth is the ideal woman to lead this strong squad to Tokyo.

Hannah Whelan

Tweddle’s training mate and two time All Around British Champion, Whelan was also always going to be a lock for the team. Great Britain have three very good AA gymnasts, Hannah being top of the bunch and most the consistent of the three. She’s wonderful on beam,  is a strong vaulter, powerful tumbler and has beautiful lines on bars.  Her choreography on floor is quirky and fun, her tumbling is excellent and her routines are entertaining. On top of this she has recently upgraded to a DTY on vault. At last years Worlds, Hannah placed 16th in the AA competition but in the past 12 months, she has really come to form and improved immensely. Hannah should hopefully place well in this years AA final.  Read more about Hannah’s career to date here.

Jennifer Pinches

Pinches, another All Arounder, key to the British Team although she can be inconsistent at times. She can definitely add to the vault and floor scores. She can be inconsistent on bars especially but she has nice lines and nice form to add. At the same time Pinches is getting better and better and it would really affect the team if she had not been selected. She finished 32nd in last years AA qualification but as this is her second World Championships and has shown progression in the last year, she is bound to move up in the rankings in Tokyo.

Danusia Francis

The 2010 English Champion is the third All Arounder that has qualified for the team. In Britain she has quite a remarkable competition history. Beam would be Francis strongest event but most recently her new floor routine unveiled at the 2011 British Championships won the interest of many gym fans. Danusia hasn’t yet competed at a World Championships, she was named in last years squad but became ill forcing coaches to pull her from the team, she was replaced with Imogen Cairns. Despite having her ups and downs over the years, 2011 has been good to Francis, she’s gotten better, more consistent. She’ll be an asset to the team on beam, in which she holds the British Title. The beam to the UK is what bars are to the USA. She holds great flair and lovely choreography on beam. Hopefully she can help GB bump up their bars scores to avoid a repeat of what was a terrible beam set for GB in Rotterdam. Her bars is ok, not the best, lacks some composition but the girls can always rely on Beth to bump the score up. I expect Francis to qualify for the AA final with Hannah Whelan.

Imogen Cairns

Also known as the comeback kid. You only have to read Cairns story to know how hard she has worked to not be presented with a place on this Worlds Team. After her massive success at the Dehli Commonwealth Games, Cairns was flown to Rotterdam to replace the ill Danusia Francis on the team. Not new to Worlds or the international stage, she competed in Beijing in 2008, and placed a second reserve for the AA finals. This gymnast is known for her strong vaulting abilities, clean floor work and most recently she has worked hard with national beam  coach Carol Angela Orchard to make a comeback on the apparatus. Cairns was only one of two female British gymnasts to qualify for an apparatus final in Rotterdam. She made the vault final, finishing 7th while Tweddle won her World Bar title once again. Like Francis, her strong beam work will boost the GBR score.

Becky Downie

The 7 time AA British Champion represented Great Britain at the 2008 Olympics where she finished 12th in the Women’s artistic individual AA, the highest position for a British female gymnast in history. In March this year she sustained an achilles ankle injury and has only just returned to competition. Becky was selected as part of the Great Britain team to compete against Romania in a friendly international competition. She returned to competition on 3 pieces of apparatus (vault, bars, & beam) to help the Great Britain team take the gold against Romania. I don’t expect her to compete AA, not just yet, it’s not worth risking another injury and putting her out for the Olympics. She’s an experienced member of the team, great lines on bars and a truly great asset.  I’m delighted to see her back from injury.

Laura Edwards

Edwards was part of the silver winning 2010 Commonwealth Team with team mate Imogen Cairns. She finished 6th in the AA competition, 5th in the floor final and 4th in the beam final. Laura is due to be the teams reserve.

This is pretty much the team I had thought it would be – give or take Downey. A pity for Rippin, Hunt and Hibbert. As far as I know Hibbert is still out with injury.  Great Britain should qualify in the top 8, they’ve only gotten stronger and stronger. The team is strong and experienced so should injuries, consistency and confidence hold up, I see great things ahead for Team GB at Worlds.


Photo Credits:
Hannah Whelan: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Jennifer Pinches: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Beth Tweddle: Alan Edwards / British Gymnastics on Facebook
Danusia Francis: The Couch Gymnast
Imogen Cairns: BBC Sport
Becky Downie: British Gymnastics on Facebook
Laura Edwards: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images AsiaPac


  1. Emma says:

    Great post but you’ve got a photo of Laura Mitchell in place of Becky Downie!!

  2. Admin says:

    thanks Emma, oh no don’t know how that happened! Have changed it now 🙂

  3. Jess says:

    Hibbert is still injured so had no chance of making the team! In fact i think she had a second surgery on her knee not too long ago! … or was that supposed to say rippin and hunt?

  4. Admin says:

    should say hunt, was rushing out the door! i thought Hibbert was still injured alright, she’s been out for a long time now. It was announced in march that she injured her knee and would be out for a “prolonged period of time”
    What do you make of the team Jess? Would you have preferred Hunt or Rippin in?

  5. Jess says:

    I think this team is fantastic! If all the girls hit we’ve definitely got a chance at placing top 5!
    I’m not really sure how much more Jocelyn or Niamh could add to the team :S all the girls are so close in terms of difficulty and consistency (not including hannah and beth) and we have no idea whats been going on at camp! .. if Niamh hits her floor with full difficulty she could score pretty high but im not sure about her other events!
    Fingers crossed we can quality in Tokyo for London and don’t have to use the test event!

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