Great Britain’s male artistic gymnastics team wins its first Olympic medal since 1912 – in an unexpected result that will give encouragement to the rest of Team GB.
In a controversial result, Great Britain appeared at first to have won silver with Japan having slipped into fourth. However, Japan made an official enquiry into one of their scores on the pommel horse – which resulted in an increase in their score. This pushed Great Britain into bronze position – still a shock result in a sport where Great Britain’s men have not qualified for a final since 1924.
The team opened strongly with team captain Louis Smith scoring a 15.966 on the pommel horse, better than his bronze-medal winning performance at Beijing in 2008 and his world championship and world cup performances last year.
Team GB’s performance was then full of composure, despite increasing pressure within London’s ExCel Centre. The team continued with strong performances through the rest of the rotations, though suffered a blow to their points when Sam Oldham, 19, came off the high bar part way through his performance. However, a strong following performance from Kristian Thomas helped to undo some of the damage.
Other teams struggled, however, with Beijing bronze-medallists USA losing their medal hopes with a blunder on the vault. As the artistic gymnastics neared a close it looked like a straight fight between the Ukraine and Great Britain for the bronze medal, with Team GB just behind the Ukranians.
Princes William and Harry joined the crowd to watch the end of the event as Great Britain was trailing Ukraine by just 0.248 points.
However, a strong performance in the floor boosted Team GB ahead of Japan with the Ukraine in third, prior to Japan’s enquiry.
The presence of Team GB in the artistic gymnastics final was itself a great achievement, as it was the first time the men’s team has qualified since 1924.
The final rotation saw Great Britain performing on the floor, with the Ukraine competing at the same time on the rings. Max Whitlock opened for Great Britain with a high opening score of 15.166, followed by Daniel Purvis with an even stronger 15.533. Last to compete for Great Britain was Kristian Thomas who needed a 15.248 for bronze, and scored 15.433.
China, which picked up a gold medal in the 10m synchronised diving earlier, performed strongly throughout the rotations following a shaky performance in qualification, as did Japan. The two countries were gold and silver respectively at the Beijing Games.
Team GB’s male artistic gymnastics team comprises five athletes aged between 19 and 23, led by team captain Smith. Artistic gymnastics is split across six fields, the pommel, the high bar, the rings, the vault, the parallel bars and the floor.