LOUIS Smith was in tears after qualifying for the final of the men’s pommel horse competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games this afternoon (Saturday, July 28).

LOUIS Smith was in tears after qualifying for the final of the men's pommel horse competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games this afternoon (Saturday, July 28).

While captaining the five-man artistic gymnastics team to the men's artistic final, ahead of early favourites China, Huntingdon Gym's Smith was cool in earphones but let his emotions show when his performance on the pommel horse secured him first place and a spot in the individual event final at the North Greenwich Arena.

“We fed off the crowd and we proved today what we can do,” said Smith. “The talent in this team is unbelieveable. We have a special group of boys here.”

The team event requires the gymnasts to score points on the pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar. Smith is a pommel horse specialist having won bronze in that individual competition four years ago in Beijing, China.

Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock, Sam Oldham and Dan Purvis also excelled with the team beating their Chinese rivals for the first time. And by 9.45am, once all of the teams had finished their qualifying rotations, it was confirmed that GB had won through to Monday's men's team final in third place, ahead of China, who had dropped down the points table, but behind the United States and Russia.

Paul Hall is Smith and Oldham's coach at Huntingdon Gym. He's also a part of the Team GB gymnastics set-up.

Speaking from London last Tuesday (July 24), he told The Hunts Post: “It's all good, we arrived yesterday and the sun was shining on everyone.

“It's really exciting but it's a waiting game now. There is a lot to do in the village and the guys have their final preparations to go though. There are all fit and ready.”

After years of working with Smith and Oldham, this is as much Hall's Olympics as it is the athletes'.

Smith said: “The team is such a good team and my main message to them is to enjoy themselves as for a lot of them, it's their first Olympics, but not going to be their last.

“Personally, I feel brilliant. I've got a few creases to iron out, but mentally I'm sharp and feel ready.”