British men claim first Euro team gold

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Britain’s men’s gymnastics team flexed their muscles ahead of the London Olympics by claiming a first team gold ahead of Russia at the European championships on Saturday. Daniel Purvis, Kristian Thomas, Louis Smith, Ruslan Panteyleymonov and Max Whitlock became the first British team to take a major championships team gold medal.
Despite a fall on the final apparatus, the high bar, they held on for victory after building up a sufficient lead on the other five – floor, pommel horse, rings, vault and parallel bars – to score 266.296 points. Russia achieved 265.535 for silver with Romania third with 261.319. Smith, who gave Britain their first Olympic medal with his bronze on the pommel horse in Beijing four years ago, will take on world and European champion Krisztian Berki in the final on that apparatus Sunday. “It’s my first European gold medal and also a page in British history and I’m proud to be part of it,” said Smith. Britain’s men and women’s teams have surged to the fore of world gymnastics in recent years with Beth Tweddle winning their first world title on the uneven bars.
“Today’s an important day with a view to the London Games and a fantastic achievement,” said British Gymnastics Olympic performance director Tim Jones. “Many people never thought they would see a day like today and to see our juniors and seniors European champions is huge.” Germany were however a pale shadow of the team that won the European title in 2010 with an error-strewn performance which saw the team led by two-time world siver medallist Philipp Boy finish sixth. Hosts France also had a nightmare championships with high bar specialist Yann Chucherat hurting his fingers in qualifiers, and triple European medallist Samir Ait-Said suffering a knee injury on the vault.