- Written by Switch The Play
As Britain's greatest ever-female gymnast, Beth's achievements include being an Olympic Bronze Medalist, a triple World Champion, a six-time European Champion, a Commonwealth Champion and seven-times consecutive National Champion. Since retiring from competitive sport, Beth has taken part in ITV's Dancing on Ice, which she won with skating partner Daniel Whiston. She is now director and ambassador of Total Gymnastics. A company set up to provide as many children as possible with the opportunity to take up gymnastics. This is her story…
I was a gymnast for 21 years and even though I have now retired it was such a huge part of my life that I could never and would never be able to walk away from it. It taught me so much more than just winning medals and although I didn't realise it at the time I have now been able to transfer all of those skills into my everyday life.
I was very lucky throughout my career to have a huge support network around me to help me achieve at the highest level and these people continue to have an influence on my life today. My parents were very keen from a young age that although I trained for many hours, I also needed to continue with my education as a back-up. Unfortunately none of us know when or if something could go wrong. Many a sporting career has ended in a flash. Looking back I am very grateful for this as it has really helped me to create a career away from the competitive gymnastics field.
Retiring from gymnastics was such a hard decision, which I thought about for a year. I think everyone except for me knew that when I finished that routine in London 2012 that would be my last competition.
"Gymnastics had been in my life since I was 7, what else was I meant to do, did I have anything else to offer, what was I meant to do with my life? I did already have a gymnastics company set up but I still worried."
Total Gymnastics was set up in 2009 with Steve parry (Olympic Bronze medalist swimmer) and quietly ran in the background whilst I was still competing. I knew my passion was to give every child the opportunity to try gymnastics but did I have the skills to enable me to become a Company Director?
With a lot of help and support from both Steve and those around me, the answer is yes! I don't by any means know everything but in many ways it is very similar to when I was 7 years old in the gym. I have so much to learn, I will make mistakes but it is an exciting time.
The main thing is I am very passionate about what I do and I have now realised that my gymnastics career taught me so much more than winning medals and those life skills are now helping me in my everyday life.
I want to share that experience through my work with Switch the Play and help athletes at every level through a smooth transition.