• London Olympics 2012

Smith loses out on pommel gold by smallest margin

ESPN staff
August 5, 2012
Louis Smith was denied gold as Max Whitlock claimed bronze © PA Photos

Louis Smith lost out on a gold medal in the men's individual pommel horse by the narrowest of margins after a tense event at the North Greenwich Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Needing to beat Krisztian Berki's impressive score of 16.066 in order to claim the gold he has been striving for since claiming bronze in Beijing four years ago, Smith completed a smooth routine to also be awarded 16.066 - but lost out on the gold due to his lower execution score.

Berki, the Hungarian, was awarded an execution score of 9.166 for his routine - as Smith, while having a slightly harder routine, could only achieve 9.066.

It was a painful way to lose the gold but there was some consolation for Great Britain - as Smith's team-mate Max Whitlock sneaked in to claim bronze after a routine of 15.600.

Berki was always likely to be Smith's biggest threat to gold, although the 27-year-old struggled in qualification somewhat. Perhaps that worked to his advantage, however, as he was forced to compete earlier in the final and thus set the target for all those following. That he managed to do with his score marginally over 16, thanks to a near-perfect execution of his routine.

Whitlock, 19, had already put himself into medal contention with a great score of 15.600 - and it quickly became clear that he would win a medal as competitor after competitor failed to overhaul after making slight technical errors.

That left Smith, who qualified top of the group with a routine of 15.800 and so got to go last in final, to decide how the medals would finally be distributed. In order to try and defeat Berki he opted to perform his hardest routine - featuring a treacherous triple-Russian - and looked to have done everything he could, sticking the dismount after a clean and controlled performance to rapturous applause.

The crowd thought gold was on its way, but there was shock when the judges decided to award him the same overall score as Berki. Confusion initially reigned, before it became clear that the Hungarian's marginally superior execution score would ensure he took the top step of the rostrum.

The same misfortune befell Smith in China back in 2008, as he was relegated to third on execution score. On that occasion, China's Xiao Qin was victorious with a score of 15.875.

Pommel horse - final standings

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