The legacy of the 2012 London Games has stretched far beyond Stratford says Beth Tweddle .
Britain’s greatest ever gymnast was back in Newham to watch families take part in a special sports day at East Village, the former Athletes Village where she stayed during the Olympics.
“It’s been really good, the weather has held out,” said Beth who, four years ago, won a bronze medal in the uneven bars at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“You can see the kids really having a go. A lot of them had never done any gymnastics so they were being shown the basic moves. They were having a great time.”
Beth was at the Ultimate Sports Day event to launch its Summer Of Sport featuring weeks of free Olympic-inspired fitness sessions.
The 31-year-old said: “The legacy is living on from London 2012 and it’s great we are getting new facilities built around the country.
“The legacy has done what it said it would. In gymnastics there has been a huge increase in participation.”
In Stratford she chatted to families taking part in sessions run by Our Parks at the former Athletes Village. They included gymnastics, volleyball, basketball and athletics.
Beth said the children all wanted to know what the first skill she ever learnt was and were amazed to learn the sporting star had started out with a simple forward roll.
“They see you on TV and expect you to do it so they are surprised to hear I had to start with the basics.”
The Cheshire-raised athlete started the sport at seven and was the first female gymnast from Great Britain to win a medal at the European Championships, World Championships, and Olympic Games.
“It is really nice to be back,” said Beth. “Where we are doing the sports day is around the corner from where my bedroom was. It has some really good memories.
“The atmosphere back then was so amazing – people talking about it on the Tube and just everyone buzzing about the Olympics.”
Beth still has all her kit from the 2012 Games, including the duvet, and usually keeps her medal tucked away.
But in the run-up to Rio she has been showing it off to encourage children to try gymnastics.
She retired in August 2013 after 21 years in the sport and is now a director of Total Gymnastics , which runs classes for 4,000 children a week. She said: “I would love it to be nationwide. I just want every child to have a go.”
She has had to take it easy in recent months after undergoing surgery to fuse two vertebrae after she injured her back in a fall on Channel 4 show The Jump.
“It’s getting there,” she said of her recovery. “I’m working closely with physios and doctors and psychologists.”
Beth will be taking a break from work to fly out to Rio to watch the 2016 Games.
Speaking at the East Village event on Friday, July 29 she said: “I can’t wait. It will be great to be on the other side of the fence and enjoy it. The gymnastics team is the strongest team we have ever sent to a Games and there are a few medal potentials in there. Max Whitlock has had a great couple of years so he is one to keep an eye on.”
On the chances of someone from this year’s team bettering her gymnastics record she said: “It would be great for our sport.
“There are so many younger ones coming through now that are achieving even more than I did as a young gymnast.
“They are creating new role models for the younger generation.”