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Emotional Smith stars as Britain shine

July 28, 2012 14:31 pm

Gymnast Louis Smith was overcome with emotion after he produced a stunning pommel horse routine in Olympic qualification at the North Greenwich arena.

The 23-year-old, from Peterborough, landed a near-perfect routine to score 15.800 to rapturous applause from the home crowd, and had tears in his eyes as he saw the result of all the years of effort displayed on the scoreboard.

Barring a major shock, it means Smith will compete in the pommel horse final next Sunday, with his routine helping the British team all but secure their place in their first team final since 1924.

Britain outscored defending champions China by 2.435 points, amassing a total of 272.420, but must now wait until the remaining two subdivisions are completed before their qualification is confirmed.

After watching Kristian Thomas complete the final routine, Smith returned to salute the crowd and embraced his team-mate in a release of sheer emotion.

"It was just unbelievable relief," Smith said. "It's been an emotional four years for the whole of British gymnastics and there's been a lot of pressure since Beijing to perform at these Olympics. Losing my nan in 2009 was a very big part of my life so there was a lot of pressure riding on my pommel horse routine.

"I couldn't stop thinking about the future and providing for my family so it was nice to be able to go through that pommel horse routine. A lot of people, friends and family have put a lot of hours into my life to help me achieve that dream so it's nice to try and give a little back."

Smith's routine capped a magnificent performance by the British team. Thomas led the all-around competition after the first subdivision of three, ahead of Daniel Purvis in second.

The top 24 gymnasts who competed on all six pieces of apparatus will qualify for the all-around final, with Thomas also a contender for the individual vault final. Alongside stellar individual performances, Smith knows the British team have all but assured their place in the team final.

"We had a target score of 270 plus and we came out and delivered," Smith said. "We showed the world what we're capable of."

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