There was Olympic heartbreak for Louis Smith in Rio last night (August 8).
The 27 year-old Eye gymnast slipped off the pommel horse as Great Britain missed out on a medal in the men’s team gymnastics competition at the Rio Olympic Park.
The British team, who had held third place for most of the competition, faced a huge task on the final rotation after being nudged into fourth by reigning champions China.
And the pressure told on Smith, on his only apparatus of the evening, as he came off midway through his routine to score 14.766 and effectively end their slim chances of nudging back in on the medals.
Even a strong finale from world champion Max Whitlock, scoring 15.991, could not rectify the situation as the Britons - also including Brinn Bevan, Kristian Thomas and Nile Wilson - were forced to settle for fourth place.
Favourites Japan took the title with Russia in second place and China, who had hardly figured until a stunning parallel bars performance in the penultimate routine - taking bronze.
Smith blamed a last-second change of plan from the Great Britain coaching team for his fall.
Smith had sat and watched five out of six rotations without being involved in the Olympic Arena before he was called up to his specialist piece of apparatus, the pommel horse, with GB in with a chance of claiming a medal in a close-fought contest.
Smith was suddenly asked to perform a harder routine to bump up the points. “A couple of days ago after qualification they said if it’s really close, to the wire, we’ll do your easier routine,” Smith explained afterwards.
“And it was pretty close to the wire and the coaches turned round and said: ‘you know what, let’s be bold and go for the bigger routine’.
“That was the decision made literally seconds before I walked up to the pommel routine. It was a challenge doing that routine after waiting five rotations. I’m coming out, I’m cheering for the guys and then to have to go back and get in the zone - it was a challenge, I’m not going to lie.”
Smith admitted the fault ultimately was his and was full of praise for the rest of the GB team.
“The guys were absolutely fantastic out there. I’m just disappointed in my own performance. I’m feeling pretty frustrated really. It was an incredible final, but yeah it’s disappointing.”
It was Russia that took advantage of Smith’s slip but he was in no mood to enter that particular debate. “Just not getting a medal is a disappointment – regardless of who we lost it to,” he said.
“But the calibre of gymnastics is absolutely incredible. Everyone’s performance was clean. It was an incredible competition to be a part of. I’m just upset I didn’t do my routine.”
His team-mate Kristian Thomas said it was now time to turn to their individual events.
“We’ve got mixed feelings really,” he said. “We gave it everything we had, sadly we came up a bit short. That’s sport, that’s gymnastics. We did everything we possibly could to try to win a medal. We’ve got individual events now, we need to refocus and look towards them.
“It’s the Olympics. Everyone wants it as much as we do. There was a possibility of a medal as we went to the pommel horse but other teams had strong apparatus [last] too. Maybe we could have nicked a medal, who knows?”