Beth Tweddle spoke today of her ongoing struggle with overcoming the psychological impact of the injury she sustained training for Channel 4’s The Jump earlier this year.
The former Olympian has been working with a consultant on her physical recovery – Tweddle needed to have part of her hip removed to fuse fractured vertebrae in her neck – but says it’s coming to terms with what happened mentally that’s proven the hardest.
“It’s obviously been a very tough time and I still find it very difficult to process the details of the accident,” Tweddle told RadioTimes.com today. “It’s basically the psychological element. I’m still seeing a psychologist now.”
The fall took place during training for the ski jump element of the show on location in Austria and Tweddle explained she’s been encouraged to talk about the accident with her psychologist, but said she’s “still obviously just processing the details myself”.
“It’s still an ongoing process. I’m still with my consultant, I’m still seeing my psychologist and I’m still seeing my physio and rehab pretty much every day, physio every week.
“I was lucky with my physio as I worked with her when I was a gymnast,” Tweddle added. “As soon as the accident happened I found out who I wanted to help me recover, so it was nice to be able to use people I knew.
“A couple of days post-surgery I got out of bed for the first time and my parents did help me walk down the corridor with the physios. But every day there was something new there, I had a recovery plan there.”
Now back in the UK, Tweddle’s recovery plan included a very specific aim: riding 25 miles.
“One of the goals I set when I came back from Austria was to do a charity bike ride. I’d already said I wanted to do it. I’ve been working with my physio to get ready to do that.”
And there’s good news: “I’m doing the 25-mile charity bike ride in two weeks time,” Tweddle confirmed. “It should be good. That was one of my challenges. It gave me a goal and between me and my physio we had something to work on.”
Tweddle’s post-recovery plans do not, however, include gymnastics. “I wasn’t doing any beforehand,” she smiled, admitting that people are always shocked to learn that.
“I retired in 2013 and a lot of people are very surprised when they ask me if I still do gymnastics. Post-London I was tapering off: I was back in the gym on my own terms doing my own hours – I gradually brought it to a stop. I couldn’t have gone from 30 hours a week to nothing. It took me a year to make that decision, but I don’t do any gym now. I don’t think my body could handle it.”
But she’s certainly not stepped away from the sport. She’ll be in Rio for the 2016 games with the BBC as part of the commentary team and her company, Total Gymnastics, works with schools to give kids their first taste of the sport. They currently see around 4,000 children a week across the programme, with Tweddle admitting her “true passion is to inspire kids to follow their dreams”.
Indeed, it’s what brings her to London today as a patron of the Your Life charity. Based in the Olympic Velodrome she’s speaking to children about studying maths and physics, encouraging them to see the fun aspects of the subjects and how many different business areas it touches. For Tweddle, being able to use such skills alongside gymnastics means she can still do what she loves without being out on the gym floor.
“Gymnastics is my life and I’d never walk away from it… I’m quite happy to be sat on the other side of the fence now. I’ve done my time and obviously the new generation are producing amazing results.”