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  1. ITV Report

British gymnastics team in Olympic final for first time in 88 years

An emotional Louis Smith from Cambridgeshire after helping the British men's gymnastics team to a best Olympics in 88 years. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Great Britain's men's gymnastics team, including two members from the Anglia region, put on a stunning performance and exceeded all expectations at the North Greenwich arena to qualify for their first Olympic men's gymnastics team final in 88 years.

The five-man team of Louis Smith, from Cambridgeshire, Daniel Purvis, Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock from Essex and Sam Oldham finished third behind the United States and Russia, booking themselves several places in individual finals in the process.

Smith broke down in tears after he produced a magnificent pommel horse routine which scored 15.800 - the best of the day by some margin - which helped Britain finish with a total of 272.240 points, ahead of both Japan and world and Olympic champions China.

It was an outpouring of sheer emotion from the usually calm and composed Smith, who ended Britain's 80-year gymnastics Olympic medal drought with a bronze medal in Beijing four years ago.

The 23-year-old, who trains at Huntingdon Gymnastics Club, will now compete in Monday's team final and the pommel horse final next Sunday.

"It's been an emotional four years for the whole of British gymnastics. There's been a lot of pressure since Beijing to perform at these Olympics."

– LOUIS SMITH
Great Britain's Kristian Thomas, Louis Smith and Max Whitlock wave to the crowd on day one of the London 2012 Olympics. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

It has been astounding year for the British men's team after they fell short of Olympic qualification in last year's World Championships in Tokyo.

They earned their place at London 2012 in the second-chance test event, held at the arena in January, before going on to claim team gold in May's European Championships - the first ever major championships team gold medal for Britain.

Essex gymnast Max Whitlock was ranked 8th in the pommel horse Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

But Smith is not the only member of the team to book his place in an individual final.

Whitlock will compete against his team-mate in the pommel horse final after qualifying in the final place with 14.900. They will meet double world pommel horse champion Krisztian Berki but Croatian Filip Ude, who won silver four years ago, did not make the last eight.

The United States topped team qualifications ahead of Russia and Britain with Germany, Japan, China, Ukraine and France completing the final line-up.

Team GB gymnast Max Whitlock was born in Hertfordshire and now competes in Essex Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

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