London: China claimed gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the gymnastics men`s team event at the North Greenwich arena on Monday.
Great Britain won their first men`s Olympic team medal in a century when they claimed bronze, after Louis Smith, Max Whitlock, Daniel Purvis, Sam Oldham and Kristian Thomas scored a total of 271.711 as they produced a stunning team performance in front of a royal audience.
Britain had initially been awarded silver but an inquiry into the score of Kohei Uchimura`s pommel horse routine saw Japan claim silver and Britain downgraded to bronze.
The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry led the support as Britain won their first Olympic team medal since the bronze at the Stockholm Games in 1912 to thunderous applause from the home crowd.
It came as a huge shock to both the gymnasts and the home crowd, with boos reverberating around the arena as Britain were stripped of their silver medal.
A medal of any colour would have exceeded all expectations for the British team with bronze looking like the best they could dream for against the gymnastics powerhouses of the United States, Russia, China and Japan.
In a tense finale, it looked as if they had done enough to secure the bottom step on the podium after going head-to-head with Ukraine on the last piece of apparatus as the United States faded away.
Ukraine were in bronze medal position and Japan in silver with the final rotation to go, but brilliant performances on the floor by Whitlock, Purvis and Thomas saw them seal their place on the podium, as Japan faltered and finished in fourth.
However, there was a twist in the tale, as Japan launched an inquiry into three-time world champion Uchimura`s score, leaving Britain patiently waiting to learn their fate.
When the result came through, delight turned to despair for Britain as they saw the silver medal slip through their fingers, meaning they took their place on the bottom step of the podium.
But when what they had achieved sank in - the first men`s Olympic team medal in a century - Whitlock admitted the colour of the medal did not matter.
"We came into this competition not expecting anything, not putting any pressure on ourselves and came out here to enjoy it," the 19-year-old said.
"We`ve done this which is amazing.
"To be honest [the downgrading] doesn`t matter. A bronze or silver medal doesn`t matter.
"We`ve done more than we could have asked for and I can`t ask for more than this."
Oldham, who was unable to train six months ago due to injury, said: "I just can`t believe it as we just walked away from a home Olympics with a bronze medal.
"It`s unbelievable. We put in so much hard work and we`re all so happy.
"To get a bronze medal here is amazing. It doesn`t really matter [about not winning silver] to be honest.
"We`re very happy to get this."
BDST: 1446 HRS, July 31, 2012
Chanchal Ghosh, Newsroom Editor
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