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World Gymnastics 2010: GB reach Worlds team final

GB's Beth Tweddle dismounts the bars

Solid qualifying performance for GB gymnasts

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport in Rotterdam

A strong performance on the uneven bars from Beth Tweddle proved enough to lead Britain's women to the team final of the World Gymnastics in Rotterdam.

Tweddle struggled on the floor, where she is defending champion, but lies in third place on bars. GB went through in fifth as two days of qualifying ended.

"There's a chance of a medal. We've made great strides," said Tweddle.

This tournament marks the beginning of qualification for the team gymnastics event at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Women's qualifying concluded on Sunday, sending the top eight teams at the Ahoy Arena through to Wednesday's team final.

Beth Tweddle
Tweddle and co are looking to build a challenge for London 2012 medals

More importantly, the top 24 teams made sure of their right to compete at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo.

Teams who failed to make the cut are not allowed to compete in Japan next year and, as a result, cannot qualify for the Olympic team competition at London 2012.

While missing out on a team place does not stop individual gymnasts from qualifying in their own right nearer the time, the top 12 nations at Tokyo 2011 are expected to receive the maximum of six qualified gymnasts at the Games.

All of which makes Rotterdam 2010 a vital stepping stone to the Games - and one Britain's resurgent gymnasts were expected to cross without serious trouble.

Both the British men and women won silver medals at the European Championships in Birmingham five months ago - the men finishing behind Germany, the women behind Russia - and are seen as a continually improving force in the lead-up to London 2012.

I had a bit of disappointment with the floor and I was in two minds - but I just had to get focused for the team

Beth Tweddle

But with that tag comes pressure on the likes of double world champion Tweddle, Olympic bronze medallist Louis Smith and the rest of the young squad, who find the bar is raised higher at each major event.

Happily, though, 25-year-old Tweddle is world class when it comes to the bars.

Her score of 15.600 on the apparatus left her behind only Chinese duo He Kexin and Huang Qiushuang, after scoring a disappointing 14.000 in the floor event.

"I was really pleased with my bars performance," Tweddle told BBC Sport.

"I had a bit of disappointment with the floor and I was in two minds - but I just had to get focused for the team.

"Luckily the bars worked this year," she added, referring to the 2009 World Championships, where she fell from the bars during qualifying inside London's O2 Arena.

Imogen Cairns
Imogen Cairns is on a high after two Commonwealth gold medals

"I'll take it one year at a time. I got bars wrong last year, I got floor wrong this year."

Scores achieved over the two days also counted towards qualifying for individual finals.

Tweddle's result sends her through to the bars final, but she did not reach the floor final and cannot now defend her world title.

Double Commonwealth Games champion Imogen Cairns - promoted to the GB team for the World Championships on the strength of that showing in Delhi - continued to impress as she reached the vault final in Rotterdam.

The 21-year-old posted a score of 14.195 as team-mate Hannah Whelan, 18, qualified for Friday's women's all-around final, where she is joined by 15-year-old Nicole Hibbert.

Whelan scored a total of 55.499 across the four sets of apparatus - vault, bars, beam and floor - while Hibbert scored 54.566.

Russia are first overall with a score of 234.521, followed by China, the United States, Romania and Britain, whose total score was 224.921.

Men's qualification, which follows a similar format, begins on Monday and ends on Tuesday. The British men's team are due to start qualification at 1330 BST on Monday.



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see also
Welsh gymnast Jones wins silver
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Folwell secures all-around gold
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England gymnasts capture silver
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Aussies pip England in gymnastics
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Gymnast Curran injured in Delhi
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Keatings on track for 2011 return
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Smith sticks with costly routine
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Home support crucial for Tweddle
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Gymnastics on the BBC
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Get involved in gymnastics
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