10/09 Tokyo: Great Britain men’s team narrowly failed in their mission for a top 8 spot and instant Olympic qualification after finishing 10th in the men’s qualifying competition at the 2011 artistic gymnastics World Championships. However, Daniel Purvis and Louis Smith both excelled and will compete in the all-around and pommel finals respectively.
The British team will now compete (along with teams placed 9-16) in the Olympic Test event at the Greenwich Dome in January with the aim of a top 4 spot in order to progress the full team to London 2012.
British Gymnastics Olympic Performance Director Tim Jones said: "This was a very disappointing day for our Men's Team. We have made some significant progress in the last few years, to the point where we had some realistic hopes for this competition. As a team aiming to establish itself in the top 8 in the world we knew we would face a serious challenge in achieving our goal, and we certainly weren't complacent. We had prepared well, and our expectations were that we could seriously challenge for a place in the Team Final. After a solid start on the first three pieces of apparatus, we did not expect to make so many mistakes on high bar, which ended up so seriously undermining our challenge. However, we know that our gymnasts were not outclassed, and they are a talented group who will rise to the challenge of qualifying for the London Olympic Games at the second qualification opportunity in January."
With high hopes going into the Championships, the British team had significant problems on high bar that proved too costly to recover from. Daniel Purvis was superb for the British team and his all-around score of 89.132 takes him into the all-around final on Friday, and Louis Smith, competing in the last routine for GBR showed all his class to produce a perfect pommel routine and a score of 15.600 to take him to Saturday’s final with an eye on the medals.
The first day of qualification had been all about the Japanese team and local hero Kohei Uchimura who led the team to top place and individually scored a huge 92.256 points - the American team also impressed on day one. The British boys were first up on day two with their score placing them in 6th position at that point and leaving an anxious wait to see how the other countries would fare.
The first hit came from the French team, backed by a huge vault display, who in the very next subdivision beat the British score. Russia followed up posting a score of 353.725 pushing Britain back to 8th with one round to go and dreams of a top 8 fading. The last subdivision brought Korea and China to the arena, the Chinese looked solid all the way round whilst the Koreans were explosive and backed by a hugely vocal crowd, both teams in the end had enough to overcome the British score and place themselves into the top 8, China into 3rd and Korea into 6th.
The British boys made a great start to the competition on rings with powerhouse Ruslan Panteleymonov leading the way with a 14.33 supported by Dan Purvis and Kristian Thomas both with 14.100. From rings to vault and again the British boys all completed clean routines, Dan Purvis proving his all-around credentials early on with a 15.133.
Next up parallel bar and problems started to appear, Dan Keatings with an uncharacteristic slip but overall the British boys remained composed and at the half way mark were looking on track for a good score.
It was on the high bar that the good work began to unfold, with 2 falls and difficulties for all except Dan Purvis the British boys were viably shaken. Needing to regroup on floor they produced solid work all round, Purvis again the top scorer but all gymnasts going clean and showing fantastic maturity and focus after the high bar.
The last piece was the pommel. Kristian Thomas struggled first up but Sam Oldham in his first senior Worlds took the pressure setting up the way for the big guns. Dan Purvis scored a clean 14.566 to give in and all-around total of 89.132, a brilliant display and clear route through to the all-around final.
Dan Keatings suffered a rare slip whilst traveling between the pommel, the difficulty of his routine showing in his 14.066 score despite this. Last up was Louis Smith, having encouraged his teammates around every piece it was now his turn to contribute and he did so in style, a superb clean 15.600 giving the boys the boost they needed and putting Louis into the pommel final.
Uchimura (JPN) 92.256
Orozco (USA) 90.532
Leyva (USA) 89.848