Flawless Britain make European team final as top qualifier

Great Britain's women produced a series of flawless routines to top qualifying in the team event at the gymnastics European Championships in Sofia.

Hannah Whelan, Rebecca Tunney, Rebecca Downie, Ruby Harrold and Claudia Fragapane all made stellar contributions to the team total of 172.147 points that ranked Britain ahead of both Romania and Russia heading into Saturday's final.

Great Britain won team silver four years ago in Birmingham, their only team medal in the history of this event, and double Olympian Whelan - a double European bronze medallist in 2012 - has made no secret the competition is her priority this week.

“We are all just so proud of that performance," she said.

"We are a very close team and every girl produced for the team. We were very focussed on the team and that showed as we all supported each other and all wanted to do our best for each other.

"The support for the British fans in the crowd really spurred us on and we couldn’t have asked for much more – to be top of the rankings is an incredible achievement.”

And experienced campaigner Downie believes there is still more to come when it matters.

"I didn’t perform my hardest bars routine as I’m saving that for the final, its great to know that I have a bit extra and I can just go out and enjoy being in the final and we’ll see where that takes me," she said.

Downie also qualified for Sunday's individual finals on the bars and beam while team newcomer Fragapane will appear in the floor and vault final and Tunney will go for the medals on the bars.

"I’m a bit overwhelmed. I was so nervous coming in to this as it’s my first major championships but the girls have been fantastic and we did this together as a team," said Fragapane.

"I knew that my floor and vault were strong and I focussed on just doing what I do in the gym; to make two individual finals is just amazing."

© Sportsbeat 2014