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Commonwealth Games: Australia pip England in gymnastics

Prashanth Sellathurai

England miss out on gymnastics gold (UK only)

England's men suffered disappointment after being edged out by Australia for gold in the artistic gymnastics team competition in Delhi.

England's team of Max Whitlock, Luke Folwell, Danny Lawrence, Reiss Beckford and Steve Jehu led with one of the six rotations remaining.

But they struggled on the pommel horse while Australia proved stronger on the rings.

Australia finished on 259.050 points with England on 256.750.

Canada were third with 248.500 ahead of New Zealand and Wales.

Australia fielded a full-strength team, who are en route to this month's World Championships in Holland, while England were without first-choice performers including Olympic pommel horse bronze medallist Louis Smith, who was being saved for Rotterdam.

"We came here to get a medal and we got a silver medal, so I'm really happy," said 18-year-old Enfield-based Beckford.

"It feels good. It shows that England and Great Britain have got depth in their team."

The day's events doubled as the team final and individual qualifying.

The top 24 athletes on all the apparatus were to progress to the all-around final, while the individual apparatus finalists were also to be determined.

Beckford was second to Australia's Joshua Jefferis in all-around qualification, with Folwell third and Whitlock fifth, boding well for Wednesday's final.

Beckford, who is 18 and from Enfield, added: "I qualified in second so hopefully on Wednesday I can try to do the same as today, maybe even better."

Wales' Grant Gardiner qualified in 11th, with team-mate Matt Hennessey in 12th, while Northern Ireland's Luke Carson and Alex Hedges of the Isle of Man also progressed.

England began on the rings, with Folwell leading the way with 14.550 points and the 23-year-old from Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire recorded 15.250 in the vault on the second apparatus.

Australia, who began on the vault before moving to the parallel bars, topped the standings after two rotations with 89.200, with England 0.400 behind and Wales, who competed in the first session, the third-ranked team.

After the third rotation with England on the parallel bars and Australia on the high bar, the latter led by 0.5.

Beckford recorded 14.000 on the high bar, but England were 2.950 points adrift of Australia's 175.5 running total with two disciplines remaining - floor and pommel horse.

Jehu top-scored for England on the floor with 14.500, helping to take his team into the lead on 215.350 points after Australia floundered on the pommel horse to drop to 214.700.

With one piece of apparatus remaining, it was between England and Australia, with Canada well adrift in third more than 10 points behind.

Jehu's low score on the pommel was discounted but Beckford stuttered and had to remount, piling the pressure on Whitlock, England's final performer.

The 17-year-old triple European junior champion delivered with a flawless performance, recording a strong score of 15.300.

But it was not enough for gold as strong routines on the rings from Australia saw them emerge triumphant with wins in five of the six disciplines, with England the leading scorers on the pommel horse and second on each of the five remaining apparatus.

Tuesday sees the women in action with the team final and individual qualifying.

Wednesday sees both all-around finals, while the individual apparatus finals will take place on Thursday and Friday.



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