Tunney makes her mark

02 August 2012 / 20:46

Great Britain gymnast Rebecca Tunney might not have won an Olympic medal but the teenager from Ashton-under-Lyne has certainly made a big impression in her first year of senior competition.

The 15-year-old is the youngest member of Team GB and was the youngest gymnast to compete in Thursday's individual all-around event, where she finished in 13th place behind American Gabrielle Douglas, who won gold ahead of Russians Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina.

It is the second-best finish for a British woman in Olympic all-around competition, one place behind Becky Downie's result at the Beijing Games - not bad for a gymnast who competed at January's test event in a bid to gain experience on the world stage.

Since then, Tunney has enjoyed a meteoric rise. She competed at the European Championships where she helped Britain to a fourth-place finish before being crowned British all-around champion. The City of Liverpool gymnast topped the scoreboards at all three Olympic trials, before helping the five-strong women's squad into their first Olympic team final in 28 years.

"It's been amazing," Tunney told Press Association Sport. "Competing with all these other great gymnasts, both on my team and every other team, has been absolutely amazing. It's been an experience I'll never forget, definitely. It's been the best time of my life."

Tunney, who was told she had made the Olympic squad on a phone call during a lesson at school, puts her six months of amazing success down to the hours and hours spent in the gym, where she is coached by Claire Duffy.

"At the beginning of the year it was just like a long shot," she said. "I was so young and everyone else was so good on the team. I just worked hard and trained hard and tried to get my routines as perfect as I could. When I got my place I was over the moon and now I'm just happy to have come to this competition and gone all the way round and be part of this team."

In contrast, Hannah Whelan, who trains with Tunney at the same gym in Liverpool under coach Amanda Reddin, was left heartbroken after a no-score on vault left her in last place. The 20-year-old was distraught after her hopes of improving on her ninth place at the world championships crumbled when she was judged to have landed on her knees instead of her feet.

The gymnast broke down in tears at the side of arena before finishing off her competition with a solid bars routine.

"I just had a bit too much adrenaline and right at the end I just didn't get any push off the top," Whelan said. "It was a silly mistake. I am disappointed for myself, my coach, my parents and everyone else who has been supporting me. I've been working really hard but these things happen."