Max Whitlock may have withdrawn from this week’s artistic gymnastics European Championships in Switzerland but with the road to Rio heating up, Dan Purvis says Team GB will still be looking to lay down a marker to the rest of the world.
Pommel horse World Champion Whitlock recently contracted a virus and with his Olympic Games prospects in mind he won’t make the trip to Switzerland.
Courtney Tulloch will replace him on the men’s side – joining Nile Wilson, Kristian Thomas, Louis Smith and Purvis – as Great Britain attempt to conquer Europe in the last major championships before Rio 2016, with the senior men’s qualification beginning on Thursday.
Winning team gold, as they did back in 2012, is a distinct possibility although the likes of Russia will certainly provide stiff competition.
Purvis makes no bones about the fact that the squad are looking to leave with the title and is adamant they are in perfect shape to do just that – even if the ultimate aim this season is the Olympic Games.
“Preparation has been great. I did well individually at the British Championships and we all put strong performances in so we’ve taken that forward into training,” he said.
“From there, we’ve been building up our training and just trying to keep our routines ready and fully prepared for the Europeans.
“We’re going to the Championships to get gold. Russia are our main rivals and they’ll be really tough to beat.
“We did it in 2012 but they beat us in 2014 so we’ll be hoping to push for the gold medal this year especially with Rio being so close.
“Individually, it’d be great if I could go home with a gold medal too and I’ll definitely be hoping to achieve that.
“Going into the Olympics on the back of success at the European Championships would be great. A gold medal isn’t everything as Rio is the main target but obviously we want to win.”
Last year’s European championships saw Team GB’s senior gymnasts scoop a record six apparatus medals – a haul they will be looking to at least match this time around.
With selection for the Olympic Games now just around the corner, every event is crucial for the gymnasts and it is the quintet of Rebecca Tunney, Claudia Fragapane, Ruby Harrold, Becky Downie and Ellie Downie who will represent Britain when the women’s competition starts on June 1.
Amy Tinkler may well have been part of the team but will instead remain at home as she focuses on her upcoming school exams.
Despite being just 18 years old, Fragapane is a two-time European silver medallist, four-time Commonwealth Games champion and a World bronze medal winner.
Yet even she admits the pressure is on at the Europeans with the Olympic Games edging ever closer.
“Everyone is on edge including myself,” said Fragapane. “You don’t know what’s going to happen and you want to still do well.
“It can easily happen, you can easily come out of the team by not doing well in training or something, and so we’re all just trying to do our best and put in clean performances.”