TEAM GB’s artistic male gymnasts vowed that their dramatic relegation from second place to third would not inhibit their sense of triumph after the powerful performance with which they secured their unexpected bronze medals.
With a score of 271.711, Britain’s team of Sam Oldham, Louis Smith, Max Whitlock, Daniel Purvis (right) and Kristian Thomas were in second place behind 2008 gold medallists China and two places ahead of Japan after a series of mistakes by the latter on the pommel horse.
Britain had virtually been confirmed as silver medallists before a late Japanese appeal suddenly took them from fourth to second and sending Ukraine from third down to fourth but if there were any concerns that their relegation from second to third would provoke a sense of regret they ultimately proved misjudged when the team revealed such genuine delight.
“If someone had said at the start of the day that we would finish third behind China and Japan and beat Ukraine, Russia, Germany and America, I don’t think any of us would have believed you to be honest,” said Oldham.
“For me, six months ago I wasn’t even training. I’ve had some pretty dark times in the last year. “To have done this is a credit to the guys, my mum, my dad, my personal coach – I would not be where I am without them.”
Smith added: “In a way I’m quite happy because all of us look up to the Japanese gymnastics team. They’re the pinnacle of gym. All of us want to be as good as them so to see them get a medal, we’re very happy about it.
“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.
“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.”
Given Britain had recently finished 11th at the world championships, a medal finish had appeared highly unlikely and it is this that Whitlock concedes.
He said: “We came into this competition not expecting anything, not putting any pressure on ourselves and came out here to enjoy it. We’ve done this which is amazing.
“To be honest [the downgrading] doesn’t matter. We’ve done more than we could have asked for and I can’t ask for more than this.”
Winners China finished with 275.997, with Japan on 271.952.