10/04: The last day of the European Championship in Berlin and 3 more finals for the British gymnasts.
Beth Tweddle, going for her third floor title in a row just fell short. An injury that plagued her preparation limited her tumbling, to score her 14.300. and 4th place to go with her bars Gold from the first day of apparatus finals.Sam Oldham, in his first major senior competition was also agonizingly close to the medals, again in 4th, he produced a superb performance to be pushed out by the very last routine of the whole championship, still a terrific result for Sam!
Hannah Whelan on beam, the first beam final for a British gymnast in 9 years, finished in 8th.
No British gymnast in the vault final, with the late withdrawal of vault specialist Theo Seager with injury before qualification meaning he was unable to compete.
The title went to Thomas Bouhail of France who led the qualifications and continued his form with a 16.362 average for Gold, followed closely be teammate Ait Said who jumped from 7th in qualification after a superb 16.325 average off his final vaults. In a final with many gymnasts struggling to control their explosive power into clean landings, the Bronze going to Golotsutskov (RUS) with 16.125.
All-around champion Dementyeva (RUS) was up first and was near perfect to set the standard and score 15.350 (Gold).
It had been 9 years since a British gymnast had made a major beam final and now Hannah Whelan took to the podium.
A beautiful start from Hannah and then disaster, a fall following her difficult combination, and another fall shortly after, she composed herself brilliantly to dismount and score 11.950.
Kaeslin (SUI) up next competes cleanly and elegantly with 14.125, and is followed by Ferlito (ITA) is wobbly in places but stays on to give her 14.500 (Bronze). Croket of Belgium is neat and precise to score 14.150 and sneak in with a chance of the medals. And last up comes Preziosa of Italy with all the scores ahead of her she kept her cool for 14.500 and pip her teammate to Silver.
Hannah Whelan (8th): “ I started great, having thought I may be pretty shaky, but it was all going really well and then I don’t know what happened. I can’t blame nerves, as I actually felt pretty good so I don’t know what happened. Its brilliant that I made the final in the first place, with British gymnast not usually excelling at beam, but still my week hasn’t been as good as I hoped so plenty more work to do!”
The German crowd was hopeful of a Gold as Marcel Nguyen took to the bars first and scored 15.525.
Zonderland (NED – Silver) chased him with 15.300 and Kuksenkov hit 15.050.
In the final routine Tsolakidis (GRE) put the pressure on (15.075 and Bronze) but couldn’t beat the German - the crowd going suitably wild!
Beth Tweddle was faced with the unbelievable task of winning her third floor title in a row, to go with the three consecutive bars titles she confirmed the day before.
It was no secret that Beth had been struggling with injury problems however that had limited her training and meant she only just made the floor final, qualifying 8th.
Demetyeva (RUS) the all-around and beam champion up first, just about holds together 2nd tumble in an otherwise clean performance, scores 13.950. Teammate Belokobylskaya next up with more difficulty and the score to match – 14.450 (Bronze)
Csillag of Hungary entertained with nice dance work for 13.150, and Croket of Belgium was extremely neat with her tumbles with the crowd loving her choreography for 14.275.
Then came Romania’s Sandra Izbasa (Gold) a renowned floor worker, her beautiful lines impressing as always on her way to 14.500 for the lead.
The mark set for Beth Tweddle.
She exploded into her tumbles, with slight hops on landings the only faults and perhaps showing her injury, the rest of her routine was clean but not perfect - 14.300.
Chelaru (ROU) followed with stunning work, the whole crowd mesmerized by her charm and personality clearly coming out, she was rewarded for it with 14.475 (Silver), pushing Tweddle out of the medals and into 4th place.
Beth Tweddle: “I couldn't have asked for much more out there considering I haven’t really trained floor fully for quite a while, so I'm pretty happy to have gone out clean with the deductions on my landings perhaps showing my injury. To have won 5 of the last 6 floor and bars titles at the Europeans has been beyond my wildest dreams. I began gymnastics for fun and am so proud to have achieved so much. Looking ahead its great that I have been able to get my new routines out there and I can now focus on perfecting them in the run up to the Worlds and 2012.”
And on to the final event of the whole championships, the high bar, an absolute crowd favourite and always a thrilling end to any competition, especially with Dutch hero Epke Zonderland, famed for his outrageous routines, up last. For Britain, Sam Oldham, in his first major senior event.
Phillip Boy (Silver) got the home crowd going with the first routine of the final, scoring 15.350.
Moznik (CRO) couldn’t quite match Boy but went clean and scores 15.125 while Gonzalez (ESP) gets himself in a mess and falls for 13.225.
Nguyen (GER) seemed nervous and cautious to begin with but soon found his rhythm with to produce successive spectacular releases mid routine, before dismounting safely to score 15.300 (Bronze).
Next up Sam Oldham with a leg split on his first handstand but otherwise faultless and a prefect dismount gives him 15.175, third position at that point, a superb performance from Sam.
Kulesza (POL) seemed uncomfortable throughout and trips on dismount to score 14.075 and keeps Sam in the medals.
Last up Epke Zonderland (Gold), as always his routine is packed with difficulty with huge release and catches, not perfect execution but big enough difficualty to take him to the title, 15.575 pushing Sam into 4th place
Sam Oldham: “Seriously I have never know anything like that before, the atmosphere was unreal, the floor was shaking with the noise. I was trying to block it out but it just gets you so excited. I had a good feeling coming into the final knowing that I had been hitting my routines in training and I’m just so chuffed to have done it again – I’ll definitely take 4th”