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Page last updated at 21:19 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 22:19 UK

British men qualify third at European Championships

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham

British gymnast Louis Smith

European Gymnastics from Birmingham

Great Britain's men overcame a major power cut mid-competition to qualify third for Saturday's European Championships team final in Birmingham.

World silver medallist Daniel Keatings and Olympic bronze medallist Louis Smith qualified in first and second for Sunday's pommel horse final.

"It's one of the highest places we've ever come as a team and we had lots of mistakes," said Keatings.

Daniel Purvis made the individual floor and parallel bars finals.

The power failure forced the gymnasts to retire to the warm-up area for half an hour, with thousands of pieces of ticker tape released onto the competition area as an unexpected, bizarre consequence.

But the British team kept their composure, only faltering a little on the last piece of apparatus - the high bar - to qualify third.

"The power cut is something new that I've not experienced before," admitted Keatings, 21, who took all-around silver at the World Championships in London in 2009.

"We lost a bit of concentration when we went back into the warm-up gym and had to sit down for a while. But everything went to plan after that so it was fine.

606: DEBATE

"Hopefully we can put right our mistakes on Saturday and climb up the rankings a bit more."

Unlike the 2009 World Championships, at which the onus was on individual performances, the focus at this year's European event is on the team competition.

With several top teams such as Belarus, Ukraine and Russia absent as a result of volcanic ash-related travel problems, the British team had been expected to mount a challenge for a podium place, although Germany remain the team to beat and France look strong.

The men's team final takes place on Saturday, with live BBC coverage on the Red Button and online (for UK users), while individual apparatus finals will be held on Sunday.

Though the emphasis here lies with the team competition, Keatings and Smith will both be keen to leave Birmingham with an individual European medal after leading pommel horse qualification.

Keatings must use 2010 to prove he can consistently compete at the top level following his all-around world silver last year, while Smith, who fell from the apparatus in that competition, is looking to reassert himself in his specialist event.

Power cut floors gymnasts in Birmingham

Power cut floors gymnasts in Birmingham

"It was redemption after what happened at Worlds," said Smith, who wagged a triumphant finger at the crowd as he stepped away from his pommel horse routine.

"That was to say, 'that's the routine I was looking for, that's the routine I wanted to do'.

"There are always nervy moments - I wouldn't be a decent gymnast if I didn't feel nervous, it's what I thrive on.

"But to be able to get through the routine clean shows everyone I'm back up there contending and sets me up really well. I've shown the judges, which is a big thing."

Purvis cemented Britain's position in the top three with two fine performances, coming third on the floor to progress alongside sixth-placed Kristian Thomas, and scraping into the parallel bars final.

Though Britain's leading senior male gymnasts are barely out of their teens, they must deliver in 2010 as they are already coming under increasing pressure from the British junior squad, who won gold in their team competition on Thursday.



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see also
Gymnastics results
23 Aug 05 |  Gymnastics
GB junior gymnasts retain title
22 Apr 10 |  Gymnastics
Volcano fails to halt European Gymnastics
22 Apr 10 |  Gymnastics
Keatings happy with high profile
09 Dec 09 |  Gymnastics
Smith error ruins Worlds chance
17 Oct 09 |  Gymnastics
Keatings may pass on 2010 Games
16 Oct 09 |  Gymnastics
Keatings secures historic silver
15 Oct 09 |  Gymnastics
Smith wins historic bronze for GB
17 Aug 08 |  Gymnastics
Gymnastics on the BBC
05 Oct 11 |  Gymnastics
Get involved in gymnastics
23 Sep 10 |  Gymnastics


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