Max Whitlock has been crowned European pommel horse champion with Sam Oldham taking high bar silver, Kristian Thomas high bar bronze and Daniel Purvis taking floor bronze to cap a superb championship for the British men’s team in Sofia.
Olympic pommel bronze medallist Max’s routines have been a class above his competitors all week and this was the same in the final as he took gold with a huge 16.166 points, beating the Olympic champion by some distance. His pommel gold continues a British legacy in this event with Dan Keatings taking the previous two European titles.
Sam and Kristian showed all their experience on high bar and in a tense competition the British boys showed great composure, skill and determination to take the silver and bronze.
Dan’s floor was similarly impressive as he produced a confident stylish fault-free routine to claim the European bronze for the second time having also taken the same medal in 2010. Max also placed 5th on floor.
The results conclude the men’s European Championships with the seniors also taking team silver and the junior boys team gold, all-around gold and bronze and four gold and four silver medals in event finals.
Max summed up his pommel performance saying: “I’m really, really happy. I’ve worked so hard on my routines and am always trying to up my game to stay ahead of the competition. To produce under that level of pressure and expectancy and win ahead of a legend like Kristian Berki feels fantastic."
My routine is high on difficulty but I’m never satisfied, from here I’m going to be looking to push on even further, it feels fantastic to have won this medal and I’m determined to go on and win more in the future.”
Sam Oldham said after: “I’m almost speechless. I didn’t watch the first routines and then once I heard Hambuechan (Germany's hotly tipped high bar worker) had fallen I knew if I focused a medal could be in my reach. I had to lay down a marker for the rest to follow and I did that. To stand on that podium with one of my best friends and my roommate Kris was a very special moment.”
Kristian shared Sam’s enthusiasm: “It was a pretty tense competing so to come out with the bronze medal – my first individual European medal – is fantastic. My routine wasn’t perfect but my experience got me through, we are all so well prepared and know how to fight for the medals and that’s what I did today.”
Floor bronze medal winner Dan Purvis said “I’m delighted with the bronze. It was very tough field and the routines were a great standard. It was difficult watching the other guy’s performances and going last up but I knew if I went for my routine I was capable of getting a medal. It’s been a long time coming for me to medal on floor since my World and European bronze’s in 2010 and I’m really happy to have proved myself today.”
Max Whitlock and Dan Purvis qualified though to the floor final in first and second place. Having seen Russian Abliazin match his qualifying score of 15.700 Max knew he had to go for a big routine, his twisting tumbles stood out but he couldn’t quite execute the perfect landings, stepping out of bounds on his second pass, however his last tumble was stuck superbly to give him a score 15.333 for 5th place.
Dan Purvis was aggressive and powerful in his tumble work, competing last up he knew that he was capable of producing a medal winning routine and that confidence showed in a great performance to score him 15.400 for European bronze.
Max Whitlock followed Olympic champion Kristian Berki on to the pommel and showed no signs of being phased. His routine is on another level, amazing hand speed controlling his body up and down the pommel with work up into handstand and flairs mid routine, he scored an outstanding 16.166 points putting him a class above every other competitor, with Berki in silver scoring 15.633.
Sam Oldham qualified in 4th and Kristian Thomas 7th going into a highly anticipated and high quality high bar final. One of the big favourites Hambuechan of Germany fell first routine and that opened up further opportunities for the boys to reach the medal podium. Sam Oldham was pumped up for his high bar routine, winding up for a huge release and catch move you could see his determination and drive. His landing was solid and he produced his trademark fist pump to the crowd for a score of 14.866 and silver.
Kristian Thomas was also superb his twisting release move standing out as he executed a near perfect performance to score 14.808 only narrowly behind Sam for bronze.