Britain’s most successful gymnast had already announced that the London Games would be her last, and although not leaving as champion she certainly left with her head held high.
The 27-year-old scored 15.916, behind leader Aliya Mustafina of Russia in 16.133 and China’s He Kexin in second with 15.933.
Tweddle’s Olympic medal serves a fitting end to a 12-year international career, which includes a host of world and European medals.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to win the Bronze medal, there was one point today I thought I’d end in fourth like in Beijing, so I’m really happy,” she said.
“This was the one medal missing from my collection; this is the one I really wanted. I tried to keep calm and do what I do best and the crowd were amazing, as soon as I walked into the arena it was incredible.
“I had a step on my dismount but at the end of the day I had to go for the difficult dismount to challenge for a medal. To be honest I could say ‘what if’ but I’m not disappointed in the slightest, any medal, any colour is what I always said I wanted, so I’m extremely happy.”
On retiring from the sport, she added: “This is definitely my last Olympics. I’m not totally retiring straight away; it would be too much on my mind and body just to stop.
“The federation have said I can keep training a bit, so I can decide what I want to do rather than make drastic decisions.”
Team-mate Kristian Thomas followed in the men’s individual vault competition but his bid for a medal evaporated after he was awarded 15.533 points following an error during landing.
Thomas looked set to challenge for the medals after a strong first vault, but a mistake when trying to land his second saw him drop down the leader board and finish in a disappointing eighth place.
Japanese favourite Yang Hak-Seon took gold with 16.533, and Russia’s Denis Ablyazin clinched silver.
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