British male gymnasts pick up medal despite last-minute appeal by Japan

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

British gymnast Louis Smith at the 2008 Olympics.
Image: Sarah Kirby.

The men's team final in artistic gymnastics reached a tense conclusion last night at the Olympic Games in London. China took gold with 275.995 points. Japan took silver with 271.952 points, and Great Britain got bronze with 271.711 points.

Britain initially looked likely to win silver following a fall from the pommel horse by Japanese gymnast Kōhei Uchimura. Uchimura unexpectedly fell from the horse but managed to recover and land on his feet. Before the appeal, Uchimura's score left Japan in fourth place with Britain taking silver and Ukraine taking bronze with 271.526 points. The judges accepted Uchimura's appeal and increased Japan's final score by 0.7 points, just edging out Great Britain by 0.241 points.

British gymnast Louis Smith celebrated Britain's bronze: "It's a beautiful day for the sport and for British gymnastics."

Smith also promised great things from Britain's up-and-coming male gymnasts, promising that team members Sam Oldham and Max Whitlock would improve for the next Olympics in Rio. Smith also commended the junior squad: "The juniors we've got coming up — we've been junior European champions for the last six years — there's so much depth."

The US team, who had come first in the qualifying round, came fifth in the finals which led to tears from John Orozco. The US team vowed to fight on in the individual competition. Steve Penny from USA Gymnastics told reporters: "Our guys know that they're better than fifth place, and they're going to try to show that off through the rest of the competition."