European Gymnastics: Beth Tweddle loses floor title

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Sport in Berlin

Beth Tweddle missed out on a second medal in Berlin as she finished fourth in her floor final at the European Championships on Sunday.

Tweddle, who won uneven bars gold a day earlier, scored 14.300 in a routine hampered by a minor calf injury.

"For the training I've done, I couldn't ask for more," said Tweddle, who was beaten to gold by Romania's Sandra Izbasa, who scored 14.500.

Sam Oldham, 18, came fourth on the high bar in his major championships debut.

Tweddle, 26, was defending a second European title having narrowly beaten Russia's Tatiana Nabieva on Saturday.

That was her fifth successive victory at continental level. Not since 2008 had Tweddle lost an individual European final in either of her two favourite disciplines - the bars and floor.

But that run has now ended for the Cheshire-based gymnast, who first won a European medal nine years ago in a career already far longer than many female gymnasts enjoy.

She made it clear ahead of Sunday's floor final that she did not expect to retain her crown: a minor calf injury had been aggravated by the hard training floors in Berlin, limiting her preparation for the event - from which she considered withdrawing.

In the final itself her score of 14.300 reflected her fears, leaving her just outside bronze-medal position. A Romanian one-two was completed by Diana Chelaru (14.475) with Russia's Yulia Belokobylskaya third (14.450).

By contrast, Tweddle scored 14.650 in London to win the world floor title two years ago, and her 2011 routine should outscore that when executed at full fitness.

"I can be pleased with that, looking up and still thinking I'm up there with the best," she told BBC Sport.

"About two weeks ago the bars collapsed on me and I had a couple of days off with concussion. Then I went to prepare for this championships and as I was taking off my last tumble I pulled my calf and Achilles.

"The floor in the training gyms here is also very hard, and I haven't been able to do the training I wanted to.

"Now we'll have a recovery camp in Mexico. Ideally I'd have rested my foot straight away but with these championships I didn't have the opportunity."

Youth Olympic champion Oldham was appearing in his first major senior final having been a reserve at last year's World Championships.

His routine in the high-risk high bar event is comparatively easier than those of his competitors, and his execution must be near-perfect for him to mount a challenge.

Dutch gold medallist Epke Zonderland scored 15.575 to win the title, out of Oldham's reach, but the Nottingham gymnast performed superbly for his age and experience - temporarily occupying bronze-medal position with his own score of 15.175.

"I'm slightly disappointed [not to get a medal] but that's my first major final and I was really nervous," said Oldham.

"The atmosphere was crazy, the floor was shaking with people clapping their hands.

"I'm really happy I did a full routine, I've never been in that kind of pressured environment and wasn't sure how I'd handle it but I think I did well.

"Fourth in Europe - I've got to be happy with that. I had confidence I could do that, but to actually do it is another thing."

Earlier, 18-year-old Hannah Whelan became the first Briton to compete in a beam final at a major event for nine years, the apparatus having become something of a final frontier for British Gymnastics along with the men's rings.

But the team's bogey apparatus soon conquered the Stockport 18-year-old, a confident start proving fruitless as she fell twice for a low score of 11.950 to finish eighth.

Russia's Anna Dementyeva added the beam title to her all-round victory on Friday, scoring 15.350 to take gold.

Germany's Marcel Nguyen won the men's parallel bars event with a score of 15.525 ahead of flamboyant Dutchman Zonderland, while Thomas Bouhail led a French one-two in the men's vault alongside team-mate Samir Ait Said.

Attention now switches to October's World Championships, which are a vital tournament for Olympic qualification - although a venue for the event has yet to be confirmed.

The Worlds may still be held in Tokyo as originally intended, but world gymnastics' governing body, the FIG, is considering alternatives in the wake of last month's earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

In the shorter term, several top British gymnasts will compete at next weekend's Glasgow World Cup, part of a revised format of competitions designed to showcase the sport's top eight competitors in each discipline.

Britain's Daniel Keatings, a European champion in 2010 and world silver medallist a year earlier, is set to make his return in Glasgow following a year out through injury.