Blog: European Championships – April 2009

Following four days of intense training, I prepared for the next day’s qualifying competition with a sauna and sports massage and headed to early bed at 9pm feeling fit, injury free and ready to compete.

Friday, 3rd April – In the morning I had a light breakfast before a warm up session at the stadium with the GB team. Nerves took hold as we prepared for the qualification rounds – a poor performance now would result in no chance of competing in the finals!

With 90 male gymnasts entered into the championships, the qualification rounds would last all day. Fortunately my subdivision started first. My routines went well with only two errors, with a total score of 89.150, which would see me qualify in the top 24 for the All Around final.

The seven hour wait for results was well worth it – I qualified in first place for the All Around, first place for the Pommel Horse and third place for the Parallel Bars finals.

I now had to focus on the All Around final: another sauna, massage and early to bed with an important day ahead for the All Around final.

Saturday, 4th April – The day of reckoning had arrived – the All Around final.

I started on the High Bar and got off to a good start scoring 14.35 – just slightly better than my qualification result. I had a disappointing fall on the Floor and unfortunately only scored 14.475, putting my chances of a

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medal at risk.

The Pommel Horse was next and to get back on track I performed an easier routine that yesterday’s – this decision paid off with another good result of 15.45.

On the Rings, my weakest apparatus, I received another disappointing error. This could have ruined my chances of medalling, but I remained focused and landed a solid Vault performance with a score of 15.55 which put me into third place with just one apparatus remaining – the Parallel Bars.

Fabian Hambuchen (GER) was in the lead and Yuri Ryazonov (RUS) was in second place. Yuri completed his final apparatus, the High Bar, with a small error, leaving the door open for me to claim second place if I scored over 14.9 on the Parallel Bars.

I scored 15.0 and now waited in second place as Fabian Hambuchen completed his Pommel Horse routine. If he made any significant mistakes, it was in with a chance of a winning the gold medal – fingers crossed!

However, Fabian put in an awesome routine and claimed a well deserved first place, with me in second place and Yuri Ryazonov in third.

It was an amazing feeling – one year on from winning the gold medal in the All Around competition at the Junior European Championships. I had just won a silver medal in the All Around at the senior level, narrowly missing the gold.

It was now time to refocus on the individual apparatus finals, so off for another sauna, massage and early bed.

Sunday, April 5th

I awoke still feeling tired from the huge effort of the last two days, but if everything went to plan today I had the chance to medal again.

My first single apparatus final was the Pommel Horse. A good routine put me in the lead with a score of 15.50 but with five gymnasts still to compete.

Kristain Berki (HUN), the current European Champion, was next up and put in a fantastic routine with a score of 15.60 and moving into first place. Louis Smith (GB) was last up, performing an amazing routine and just pipping me to second place with his score of 15.55. But I’m still really pleased to add a bronze medal to yesterday’s silver All Around medal.

I had a two hour wait for the Parallel Bar final, by which time I felt really tired, but still focused. Unfortunately, an error put me into fourth place. By the end of the competition, Yann Cucherat (FRA) claimed the gold medal and I finished in seventh place.

All in all I have had a really successful competition and have also made history by winning Britain’s first ever All Around medal in a major championships.