GLASGOW (Reuters) – Russian gymnasts won the men’s team title at the European Championships for the third successive time on Saturday but only after their British hosts suffered calamities in the final horizontal bar duel while pushing hard for the gold.
Russia’s five-man team of Artur Dalaloyan, Nikita Nagornyy, Dmitrii Lankin, David Belyavskiy and Nikolai Kuksenkov were leading by just 1.132 points from Britain going into the last of the six disciplines.
Yet Dominick Cunningham had a woeful routine, twice slipping to earth off the bar, before team mate James Hall also came off, effectively ending British hopes of gold at the SSE Hydro Arena.
The Russians, led by a solid performance from their Olympic team silver medallist Nagornyy across all six apparatus, then produced error-free programmes to take gold with a total of 257.260, nearly four points clear of Britain’s 253.362.
Dalaloyan, all-around silver medallist at last year’s championships, and Belyavskiy both impressed on the parallel bars to earn 15.433 and 15.466 respectively – the two highest scores earned on Saturday.
It was, though, a huge anti-climax for the British quintet of Cunningham, Hall, Joe Fraser, Courtney Tulloch and double Olympic champion Max Whitlock, who had performed superbly until the final rotation and had to settle for silver.
“It’s a shame about the bar. I’ve never done that in my life. I didn’t even know where I was when I fell off. It’s been weird, but this is gymnastics,” said Cunningham.
“As much as we train back in the gym, anything can happen. It’s so hard out there. But we enjoyed every moment.”
Kuksenkov, one of the gold medallists, had sympathy for the British gymnast but said the Russian team had come up with their own remedy to counter a slippery grip on the high bar.
“The grip on the high bar was very bad and you will have seen a lot of mistakes on it in this competition,” Kuksenkov said.
“So we used a little bit more chalk because we knew after the (training) session the grip was bad, and in qualification David (Belyavskiy) also made a mistake. We did what we needed to win.”
The French team of Julien Gobaux, Axel Augis, Loris Frasca, Edgar Boulet and Cyril Tommasone took the bronze with 246.928.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband,; Editing by Neville Dalton and Pritha Sarkar)