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British Best Russia for First European Title
(8 votes, average 4.88 out of 5)

Olympic host Great Britain continued its romp at the 2012 Men's European Championships in Montpellier, France, capturing the senior team title Saturday. Pictured: British gymnasts Kristian Thomas, Ruslan Panteleymonov, Louis Smith, Daniel Purvis and Max Whitlock show off their gold medals.

Olympic host Great Britain continued its romp at the 2012 Men's European Championships in Montpellier, France, capturing the senior team title Saturday.

The British men won their third straight gold medal of the championships and their first senior continental title with a tight victory over Russia, 266.296-265.535. Romania won the bronze with 261.319.

Great Britain has dominated the competition in Montpellier, already winning the junior team and all-around titles for the third consecutive championship.

The British owed their senior victory in large part to their supremacy on pommel horse, where their tally of 45.433 was the highest of any event except vault. (The next-best pommel horse total was 42.799 from Ukraine, fifth overall.) Event finalists Louis Smith (15.833) and Max Whitlock (15.300) had the two best marks of the day on horse, while Dan Purvis contributed 14.300.

"After the pommel I was into team leader role, trying to encourage everyone and keep them focused and that's exactly what they did," Smith said. "This is my first European gold and it's history in the making for Great Britain, it's great to be a part of."

While the British men confirmed their status as Olympic medal contenders, they have room for improvement in the final stretch toward London. Purvis erred on floor exercise (13.966), Kristian Thomas fell on vault and Whitlock flubbed high bar (12.533).

After Whitlock's mistake, Thomas needed to score at least 14.372 to move Britain past Russia. He nailed his routine for 15.133 to seal the gold medal.

"I didn't know what score I needed on high bar — I just knew I needed to go clear," Thomas said. "The adrenaline was immense. We've worked so hard in the gym to prepare for days like this and with the support of the lads I managed to pull through. We're so proud. The first ever senior championships title - a great achievement."

The only question after the team's convincing victory is if world medalist Daniel Keatings and Youth Olympic champion Sam Oldham will be able to find spots on the squad. Like the European championships, the Olympics will feature only five gymnasts comprising each team instead of the six that competed in 2008.

Newcomer Denis Ablyazin led Russia to the silver with strong routines on floor exercise (15.266), still rings (15.241) and vault (16.066). Chosen over Nikita Ignatyev, Olympic bronze medalist Anton Golotsutskov disappointed for Russia with missed routines on floor exercise (14.266) and high bar (12.533).

Armed with two ex-Russian team members, fourth-place Belarus missed the bronze by less than .3. Defending champion Germany fell to sixth behind Ukraine and ahead of Switzerland.

Third in qualification, host France limped to eighth place with only two scores on four of the six events. In the first rotation, Samir Ait Said crashed his Dragulescu vault, scoring a disastrous 0.000. The team was already without the services of team captain Yann Cucherat, who injured two fingers on parallel bars in qualification. Ait Said, who had been the favorite for the still rings title in Montpellier, will undergo an MRI on his right knee to determine if he has suffered any ligament damage.

The two injuries are an additional blow to the unlucky French men; the team already lost world champion Thomas Bouhail to what may be a career-ending leg injury, while Olympic all-around bronze medalist Benoit Caranobe has not been able to return to form after a torn Achilles' tendon and broken ankle suffered in 2010.

Competition concludes Sunday in Montpellier with the junior and senior apparatus finals.

External Link: Official Website

2012 Men's European Gymnastics Championships
May 26, Montpellier, France

Senior Team FinalFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
1. Great Britain
Kristian Thomas15.35814.26615.30015.13360.057
Louis Smith15.83315.833
Daniel Purvis13.96614.30014.63315.70014.90014.17587.674
Ruslan Panteleymonov14.40016.10014.66645.166
Max Whitlock15.30015.30014.43312.53357.566
2. Russia
Denis Ablyazin15.26615.24116.06646.573
Emin Garibov14.73314.23314.60015.76659.332
David Belyavsky15.20014.50014.86614.36614.50073.432
Anton Golotsutskov14.26613.13316.10012.46655.965
Alexander Balandin15.40014.83330.233
3. Romania
Flavius Koczi15.03314.63313.90016.13359.699
Marius Berbecar14.10015.19115.10044.391
Oscar Buidoso14.26614.16613.66642.098
Vlad Cotuna14.96614.43314.63344.032
Cristian Bataga14.23313.50014.33315.40013.63371.099
4. Belarus
Dmitry Kasperovich16.06614.76630.832
Andrei Likhovitsky14.36614.65013.96614.73314.60072.315
Alexander Tsarevich14.13315.00014.93344.066
Dmitry Barkalov14.80012.95813.96615.43314.40871.565
Pavel Bulavsky13.53313.96614.83342.332
5. Ukraine
Petro Pakhnyuk13.56613.566
Oleg Vernyayev13.93314.40011.80015.80015.13313.63384.699
Oleg Stepko14.65014.83314.23315.40015.33313.33387.782
Maxim Semyankiv14.43314.60029.033
Igor Radivilov14.06615.00016.10045.166
6. Germany
Philipp Boy14.33314.10013.06615.00015.60072.099
Sebastian Krimmer13.33315.03314.86643.232
Marcel Nguyen14.93314.66615.86615.27560.740
Matthias Fahrig14.56615.03314.63344.232
Yevgeny Spiridonov13.96613.70011.30038.966
7. Switzerland
Claudio Capelli14.10013.60014.60014.73357.033
Nils Haller14.40014.63313.23342.266
Pascal Bucher13.76612.53315.40014.80056.499
Pablo Brägger13.23313.02513.85014.43354.541
Oliver Hegi14.23314.76614.43343.432
8. France
Samir Ait Said0.000
Gael da Silva14.46612.26614.00015.78314.20014.30085.015
Hamilton Sabot13.33314.33315.56615.46658.698
Cyril Tommasone13.46615.33315.41615.1000.00059.315

International Gymnast Magazine's exclusive features on European championship competitors include:
Philipp Boy interview (June 2011)
"Pure Purvis" - Daniel Purvis interview (March 2012)
Purvis on cover (November 2011)
"Royal Treatment" - Louis Smith profile (December 2008)
"Divide and Conquer" - Kristian Thomas interview (May 2012)

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