With 100 Days To Go until the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, former Commonwealth champion Beth Tweddle looks back at her Commonwealth Youth Games experiences and encourages England’s young athletes to make the most of the opportunity that lies ahead.

On the anniversary of her London 2012 Olympic uneven bars bronze medal, Beth Tweddle, MBE, retired from professional gymnastics. She is the most decorated and successful British gymnast and has fond memories of the Commonwealth Youth Games, having won Gold for Team England at the 2000 Youth Games in Edinburgh.

“Edinburgh was my first big multi-sport event, so just being able to mix with different athletes, where we all stayed on one site, and being able to experience something outside of the Gymnastics competition circuit was a great experience and I loved every minute of it.

“Every competition you do is a stepping stone, but I think having those multi-sport events at a young age allows young athletes to experience the competitions that come with outside distractions as well. At the Commonwealth Games you have the village, all that happens in and around it, the media activity around it is a lot bigger, it’s a great opportunity to learn how to handle those.”

Tweddle believes that the Commonwealth Youth Games provided her with valuable experience and assisted her to develop as an athlete and wants to encourage Team England’s young stars travelling to Samoa to grasp the opportunity.

“Make the most of that experience. It will give you the experience of being part of that bigger team.

“Take the opportunity; focus on the job when you go into the events. It’s about learning how make the most of every experience and focus on competing and then you can enjoy all the different things that go on.”

The 2000 Commonwealth Youth Games in Edinburgh also saw the likes of former world-number one squash player James Willstrop and retired English sprinter Nicola Sanders representing England. Tweddle found that she didn’t experience the Team England Village enough and didn’t stray out of the Gymnastics camp after she finished competing, something she regrets.

“When you are younger you don’t tend to come out of your comfort zone and talk to people. But looking back, I wish I had chatted to more athletes. I bet if you look at who was there for Team England, a lot would have progressed through and it’s important to mix with all of the other athletes in the England camp so you get a feel for the wider team”

The fifth instalment of the Commonwealth Youth Games will take place in the Samoan capital city of Apia and will feature nine sports: Athletics, Boxing, Lawn Bowls, Rugby 7s, Swimming, Squash, Tennis and Weightlifting. Team England will compete in all but Tennis and team members will be announced soon.

England has attended all four of the previous Commonwealth Youth Games, ranking within the top three nations in all of the Games.

This year, England’s young stars will take to the stage as they aim to develop as athletes and learn how to compete at an international level.

To find out more, visit http://www.samoacyg2015.ws/