Male gymnasts delighted with bronze

31 July 2012 / 08:53

Louis Smith, Max Whitlock, Daniel Purvis, Sam Oldham and Kristian Thomas were left to reflect on earning their place in the history books after a breathtaking performance at the North Greenwich earned Great Britain a first Olympic men's gymnastics team medal in a century.

Britain scored a total of 271.711 to take the bronze medal having originally been awarded silver before a Japanese appeal. Purvis, who can now add Olympic bronze to this year's European team gold and his world and European floor medals, was still struggling to believe what his team had achieved.

"It still feels a bit surreal to be honest," the Liverpool-born gymnast said.

"When we were standing there and it came up in second we were like 'Oh my God we've done it'. We then knew we had done enough to win a medal whatever happened with the inquiry. I've worked so hard over the years. Going through those hard days and pushing yourself when you don't really want to. It's days like this where it's just worth everything."

An inquiry into the score of world all-around champion Kohei Uchimura's pommel horse routine saw Japan claim silver and Britain downgraded to bronze, with China retaining their gold medal.

However, the result exceeded all the expectations of the British team, who qualified for the final in third place but believed the gymnastics powerhouses of the United States and Russia would keep them off the podium.

Thomas, who still has an individual all-around final with Purvis and a vault final to come, kept his nerve to finish off on Britain's final piece of apparatus - the floor - after nailing an incredible vault which scored 16.550.

"Less than a year ago we finished 11th at the world championships," Thomas said. "A few months later we moved on and we win European gold, which was a bit unexpected, and then we came here and won an Olympic bronze medal.

Smith, who bettered his already high-scoring pommel horse qualification routine with an impressive score of 15.966, remained philosophical about being downgraded to a bronze medal.

"We said to each other: 'The crowd shouldn't boo.' If the judges have got something wrong and they deserve to get a silver medal, they get a silver medal," Smith said. "We set out to come top six, top five pushing it. For me it was easy to sit back after the pommel horse routine and have a little look at what was going on. These guys are unbelievable."