For Rebecca Tunney, 2012 will forever be the year that her life changed. Her first year as a senior gymnast brought high hopes but few could have predicted that she would go on to win all three Olympic trials, make a European final on her debut, take the senior British title and then go on to excel at London 2012 as Team GB’s youngest member - aged just 15.
Her whirlwind gymnastics year which has taken in Madison Square Garden, New York and the o2 Arena in London will finish at the brand new Emirates Arena in Glasgow on December 8th, an event she is excited to be a part of.
“I’m really excited to be back competing in front of a home crowd in Glasgow and against some amazing gymnasts “said Rebecca. “This year, my first as a senior has been incredible. Becoming British champion, making the Olympic team and feeling the massive support from the British public has been like a dream and to compete back at home is the perfect way to end my year.”
Rebecca’s performances in London led her to 13th in the all-around final (top GB gymnast) and helped the British team to 6th place, results she is rightly proud of: “Looking back at the whole Games it seems like a bit of a blur” she says “It’s gone so fast and sitting here now I almost can’t believe what happened and that I was fortunate enough to have been in that situation. Looking back at my performance I’m really happy as every competition went to plan. I had my goals and succeeded in them all so it couldn’t have gone better and I was so happy to have helped the team.”
“After the Games there was a week or so when I thought 'I’ve done the Olympics, that was my dream’ but now I think there’s still so much to do, I’ve never done Worlds and Commonwealths and having been part of Team GB once it definitely motivates me to push on for Rio – I’ll only be 19 then” she added. “Since the Games I’ve now moved to a new school in Liverpool and live closer to the gym so it’s much better for me and reduces my travelling which used to tire me out, so I feel happy and am enjoying being back in training, working on general improvements but also we will be looking at increasing my skills ready for next year.”
It was not only the competition that Rebecca had to deal at the Games with but also the expectation of the home support, getting accustomed the Olympic environment and to her new name ‘Rebecca Tunney - Team GB’s youngest member….’
“The village experience was really strange, nothing like what I expected. I thought it would be just a normal apartment with a big gate! It was nothing like that, it was like a small town and all decorated and we got free stuff - it was great.
Being the youngest member never really made a difference to me, no one made me feel out of place, people from other sports would come and say hi and I never felt like I was the baby of the team or anything. It was great to have that title as youngest though and lots of people would come up to me and say ‘oh wow you’re the young one’ so it was kind of cool to feel special.
The first time we walked into the arena the crowd were so loud I just thought ‘oh god’ but I think once the competition started the crowd learnt how to react a bit more and it felt more normal as they knew when to stay quiet and when to go crazy. We applied for tickets to watch the diving and that was great, I’ve never seen it live before and loved it, the atmosphere for every sport seemed incredible.”
Rebecca will be appearing alongside Olympic teammates Kristian Thomas and Daniel Purvis, along with GBR team member Niamh Rippin, at the Glasgow World Cup, December 8th.