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Glasgow 2014: Rejection stings Bee into action

Rebecca Bee anticip-ates that her next trip to the SSE Hydro will be on business rather than pleasure.

Rebecca Bee will be seeking a Games boost today      Photograph: Al Devine
Rebecca Bee will be seeking a Games boost today Photograph: Al Devine

The 19-year-old rhythmic gymnast admits her eyes almost popped out of her head when she visited the venue for the first and, so far, only time to see Calvin Harris in concert in December.

She plans to return in July when she hopes to put on a show of her own at the Commonwealth Games.

Today's Scottish Championships at the rather less ostentatious surroundings of the Armadale Community Sports Hub will play a part in determining whether she will be part of Team Scotland.

Twice she has to hit the qualifying standard set by Scottish Gymnastics to be considered for selection and, having hit the highest possible score once already - at the Home Nations International in Gibraltar in November - she has to achieve another qualifying mark within the next few weeks, ideally today.

Scottish Gymnastics are hoping to take a full complement of three to the Games and West Lothian pair, Lauren Brash and Victoria Clow - who pipped Bee to the Scottish title last year by just 0.05 of a point - are also in the frame.

Bee, on a sports scholarship at Robert Gordon University but currently taking a year out from her degree in Applied Social Sciences, is well aware of the misconception attached to her chosen sport, which debuted at the Commonwealth Games in 1990.

Involving four pieces of apparatus - rope, hoop, ball and ribbon - there will be medals in each discipline at Glasgow 2014, as well as an all-around competition. It will be as fiercely contested as any event this summer.

On the day we spoke, Bee had just come out of a two-hour weights session (6.30-8.30am) at university, had a planned physio appointment at lunch time (in preparation for today's championships) and then a six-hour (2.30-8.30pm) workout in the gymnastics gym.

"It's crazy how people have the wrong perceptions of the sport," she says. "I do a lot of different kinds of training. Obviously I train in the gymnastics gym which is composed of flexibility training, conditioning and drills for my routines. But I also do strength and conditioning three times a week and I'm training six days a week. So there's a lot more to it than just waving a ribbon around.

"It can be very frustrating as you work just as hard as any other athlete. People have this wrong perception but once they get to know you, they know how hard you work.

"Being involved with the sport-scotland institute of sport, I train with athletes from different sports and when they see you working, they know you are just as fit and strong as them. It's just that it's a different sport."

There is a drive and determin-ation about Bee as she approaches the most critical time of her sporting career. Much of it comes from missing out on Delhi four years ago when she felt she had done enough to make the Scotland team but was left at home.

At 15, it was difficult to take but she acknowledges now that perhaps she was not as ready as she felt.

"I would have just turned 16 at the time of the Games and I was just very young, very inexperienced. In hindsight, I just wasn't ready," she concedes. "Why wasn't I ready? It could have been a number of reasons but I just wasn't. It was more than disappointing. I was devastated at the time.

"But I didn't really know what I had to do to qualify and what it took to get there. I was naive and a completely different athlete than I am now.

"I didn't really understand the whole process. I was frustrated at the situation and upset at myself but I'll always love my sport and there was no way I'd have walked away from it.

"I was so frustrated not to go that it made me even more determined to get to the next Games. I thought I should have been in Delhi and I wanted to prove I was good enough to go to a Commonwealth Games."

Gymnastics has pretty much been Bee's life. She started kindergym at the age of two and progressed to artistic gymnastics at the age of five.

Two years later, she progressed to rhythmic gymnastics where she was coached at the Beacon club by Sue Morgan, who remains her coach.

"I think my body was better suited to rhythmic as I've always been very flexible," she says, "Bizarrely, for artistic gymnastics, I had a fear of falling so I never thought I'd be that successful.

"Sue's been blessed with me forever! She's like second family and I've literally grown up with her. It will be special for her to see me compete at the Commonwealth Games.

"Gymnastics is all I've wanted to do. I played the usual sports at school - netball and hockey - but also did a lot of dance and sat my Royal Academy exams in ballet. Had I not pursued rhythmic gymnastics, I would probably have tried for a career in ballet."

For now, all roads lead to Glasgow and Armadale should take her a good part of the journey today. Then, she admits, she does not know what will happen at the Games.

"I've not had much chance to compare myself to other athletes so I'm not sure what to expect," she says. "But if I can continue to train the way I am, then I am hopeful. I don't imagine I'll be top of the podium but I don't think I'll do poorly either."

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