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Page last updated at 21:50 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 22:50 UK

Impressive Smith through to final

WORLD ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Venue: O2 Arena, London Dates: 13-18 October Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, the red button and BBC Sport website (UK only)

Louis Smith

Report - Smith leads GB gymnasts at Worlds

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport at the O2 Arena, London

GB star Louis Smith reached the final of the pommel horse event at the World Gymnastics Championships with a near-faultless performance on Tuesday.

The Olympic bronze medallist from Cambridgeshire qualified in third and stands a strong chance of claiming a medal in Saturday's final.

Earlier, British pair Daniel Keatings and Kristian Thomas reached the final of the all-around competition.

Action at London's O2 Arena continues with women's qualifying on Wednesday.

Smith looked every inch a potential world champion as he reproduced the routine which claimed bronze at Beijing 2008 - then promised to raise his game for Saturday's final.

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"I'm really pleased," he told BBC Sport following his performance.

"I'm here to do a job, and it's just pommel horse. I have one shot, if I get it wrong I'm out, it's a tough game.

"Luckily I dealt with the pressure, kept my head screwed on, and did the job.

"I'll increase the difficulty with my next routine, and I'm as confident with that as I was with this one."

The 20-year-old dedicated his performance to his grandmother, who died last week.

While reaching the final makes Smith a real medal prospect for Britain, he will have his work cut out to beat rivals Zhang Hongtao and Krisztian Berki, both of whom produced stunning pommel horse performances in qualifying.

Chinese star Zhang, who beat last year's Olympic gold medallist Xiao Qin to reach this competition, set a score of 16.275, ahead of Hungarian Berki's 16.100 and Smith's 15.900.

Louis Smith's guide to the pommel horse

Louis Smith's guide to the pommel horse

"Zhang and Krisztian are great gymnasts and we're all good friends," said Smith.

"The worrying thing is Zhang beat the gold medallist in Beijing, which is why he's not here.

"But even if I don't win or get a medal, as long as I do my routine clean, I can walk away with my head held high."

Keatings, 19, landed badly in the pommel horse, his preferred event, but still qualified for Thursday's all-around final in an impressive fourth place.

Japan's Kohei Uchimura, 20, an early favourite for gold, leads the all-around standings after qualification, ahead of 25-year-old Russian Maxim Devyatovskiy.

US duo Timothy McNeill and Jonathan Horton are third and fifth respectively.

Daniel Keatings

Daniel Keatings reaches the final of the all-around competition

"I got my mistakes out of the way so I can have a perfect competition on Thursday," Keatings told BBC Sport.

"The first half of the pommel horse routine was perfect, I just misplaced my hand on the dismount, completely missed the horse and landed awkwardly on the floor.

"But I was pleased with the rings, that wasn't going well in training and I hit it perfectly and there's something about the vault in competitions, I always nail it - touch wood."

Keatings and Thomas are both in the running for an all-around medal, unprecedented for a male British gymnast.

Thomas produced one of the day's best vault performances to finish ninth overall, though he struggled in the floor exercise.

"My last apparatus, the floor, didn't go to plan and there's room for improvement on Thursday," said Thomas.

Lord Coe

Report - World Gymnastics is first 2012 trial run

British chances of an all-around medal have been enhanced because of an injury to Germany's Fabian Hambuchen, who hobbled out of training on crutches over the weekend.

Hambuchen took European gold in the all-around competition ahead of Keatings earlier this year.

The World Championships are the first opportunity current British gymnasts have had to perform in front of a home crowd at this level, and each of the GB stars' performances received a loud welcome from the several-thousand strong crowd.

Aside from the all-around, British athletes were bidding for final berths in all six of the individual events.

But Yevgen Gryshchenko fell from the high bar early in his routine to end any hope of progressing, and failed to reach the parallel bars final.

Theo Seager missed out on the vault final, as did Daniel Purvis in the rings and floor events.

OLLIE WILLIAMS BLOG

Britain's women, led by Beth Tweddle, have their first taste of action in qualifying on Wednesday, with all-around finals on Thursday and Friday.

The competition concludes with both men's and women's individual apparatus finals on Saturday and Sunday, with no team or rhythmic gymnastics events to be staged.

Seven of last year's 12 Olympic champions are not competing in London for a number of reasons but a strong field is still present in each event.

The World Championships are being held in London for the first time.

They were last held in the UK in 1993 in Birmingham, which was also the venue for the 1996 women's European Championships, the last major international tournament on British soil.



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see also
World Gymnastics gets under way
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British women have podium hopes
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Now the Brits have belief
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Gymnasts to watch at Worlds
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Smith to try new routine at Worlds
01 Oct 09 |  Gymnastics
Tweddle to lead British line-up
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Gymnastics on the BBC
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Get involved in gymnastics
23 Sep 10 |  Gymnastics
Gymnastics results
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