After two rotations of the men’s team final at the world gymnastics championships in Liverpool, it would have been fair to conclude that Great Britain’s medal hopes were kaputt. Faced with a clear opportunity to snatch a medal, they headed to the dreaded pommel horse – the apparatus that exposes nerves, ruins dreams and takes souls – and they melted down.
Despite how bleak things seemed, rock bottom after the second rotation, the team kept their composure and fight in a chaotic men’s team final, recovering to salvage a spectacular bronze medal. China’s consistency allowed them to secure gold, while Japan took silver.
Throughout this season, things have clicked into place for GB. Along with the experience provided by James Hall and Courtney Tulloch, both 27, the team’s youthful core has flourished. Joe Fraser and Giarnni Regini-Moran, 23 and 24 respectively, have established greater consistency. Jake Jarman’s emergence, with the enormous scores the 20‑year‑old generates on vault and floor, has been invaluable.
They arrived here, having won team gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and European championships, filled with confidence and they started well on the floor.
But the pommel horse, so often the decider in men’s gymnastics, was next. USA, who had narrowly trailed GB in qualifications, had their own nightmare opening set. It presented an early opportunity for the rest of the field, but GB faltered.
First, Hall came off the horse towards the end of his routine for a score of 12.2. Although Jarman stayed on, his small errors were severely deducted and he scored 12.566.
That left Fraser, the Commonwealth champion, with the burden of salvaging the rotation. Instead, he crumpled. After falling and committing numerous errors, he scored 10.466, a near fatal blow to GB’s medal hopes.
Having scored 40.999 on pommel horse in qualifying, GB managed 35.232 in the final. Japan had problems of their own with two falls as pommel horse anxiety seemed to spread across the arena.
GB immediately shrugged it off and produced a solid set on the rings, punctuated by an excellent 14.666 from Tulloch and an even better celebration as he demanded more noise from the crowd.
While Jarman put his hands down, Tulloch and Regini-Moran landed their extremely difficult vaults.
As GB burned through the parallel bars, Fraser finishing his spotless routine with a roar, their perseverance paid off. Brazil and South Korea suffered on the pommel horse, while USA’s Colt Walker peeled off the horizontal bar.
GB arrived in their final rotation on the horizontal bar in fourth place, 1.2 points behind Italy on pommel horse.
On the final rotation, Hall calmly navigated his bars set, scoring 13.7, and Fraser eased through with 14.000. Across the arena on the pommel horse, Italy’s Yumin Abbadini fell off the side.
All Jarman had to do was take no risks and keep himself on the bar. He played his role to perfection, scoring 13.1, and after a crazy day of competition GB somehow landed on the podium.