Smith and Oldham make history as Britain gets bronze medal

THERE was high drama at the North Greenwich Arena tonight (Monday, July 30) when Great Britain pipped Japan to a silver medal in the men’s artistic gymnastic team event - only to have it taken away again and replaced with a bronze.

There were hearts in mouths as the Japanese put in a protest at their final score after a poor dismount by the final Japanese gymnast was not creditted to their score when it should have been by the judges.

There were boos from the crowd in the former Millennium Dome when Japan finally moved above Team GB on the scoreboard - but a third place finish was still amazing for a country who last won a men’s team gymnastics medal - also a bronze - 100 years ago.

For Louis Smith, it was a bronze won and certainly not a silver lost.

He told the BBC after receiving his medal: “It hasn’t sunk in yet, it’s unbelievable.

“Despite the protest and having the score changed, for us this is a dream come true. To get a medal - a bronze medal - is unbelievable. Silver, bronze, it doesn’t matter.

“Our target was to come in the top five and enjoy the competition. We enjoyed it, it was fantastic, and we’ve got a bronze medal out of it.”

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Huntingdon Gym’s Smith had given the team the best of starts in Britain with a fabulous first rotation on the pommel horse. His score of 15.966 was the best of any gymnast on the pommel horse in the team event.

GB dropped down to fifth during the rotations though, with Smith’s fellow-Huntingdon Gym member Sam Oldham, and Max Whitlock, Dan Purvis and Kristian Thomas, all testing their skills on the vault, still rings, parallel bars and high bar.

In the last of the six rotations, Great Britain went head-to-head against Ukraine for third place with Whitlock, Purvis and Thomas all excelling on the floor after a slip by Oldham on the high bar had seen them drop back to fourth from third.

At the end of that floor show - and Ukraine’s poor show on the still rings - GB were in third again.

That was good enough for the home crowd, but when the final result was displayed, GB had apparently pipped Japan to the silver as well after that poor dismount from the final Japanese gymnast on the pommel horse.

Japan submitted their protest, the judges watched video replays, and 10 minutes later the mistake was corrected and GB were downgraded to bronze.

Smith now has an individual gold to fight for in the pommel horse.