GB gymnasts make final breakthrough

28 July 2012 / 18:11

Great Britain's passage to their first Olympic men's gymnastics team final in 88 years was confirmed at the North Greenwich Arena after a poor performance from medal hopefuls Japan.

Louis Smith, Daniel Purvis, Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock and Sam Oldham competed in the first subdivision of three, but despite beating reigning Olympic champions China with an impressive team total of 272.420, they had to wait to see if they had made the top eight and qualify for the final.

However, with Japan's three-time world champion Kohei Uchimura and team-mates Kazuhito Tanaka and Koji Yamamuro looking slightly off-form, Britain were placed second behind the United States after session two - enough to see secure passage to the final.

With teams from Ukraine, Germany, Russia, Spain and Romania still to come, Britain will still be in the top eight and qualify for the final no matter what happens in the final qualification subdivision.

It is the climax of an astounding year for the men's team after they fell short of Olympic qualification in last year's World Championships in Tokyo.

They earned their place at London 2012 in the second-chance test event, held at the arena in January, before going on to claim team gold in May's European Championships - the first ever major championships team gold medal for Britain.

"It was just awesome," Purvis said after qualification. "It all kicked off on rings really. We all hit our dream routines and since then we just kept going.

"I think it was a case of keeping our focus. It's easy to get distracted by the crowd but as soon as we were out there it was like another competition really. It's the total opposite of what happened in Tokyo really. We did all the same preparation and didn't hit it but today we did and it just feels great."

In the afternoon session, Japan started on the horizontal bar, and Kazuhito Tanaka seemed to be flying through his routine before losing his grip and ending up one-handed.

Three-time all-round world champion Uchimura then made an uncharacteristic error, falling from the bar in his fourth release, before Yusuke Tanaka also hit the deck in what was a nervy start for the 2008 Olympic silver medallists.