London 2012

USA win team gold

Britain finish sixth, defending champions China fourth

Last Updated: 31/07/12 10:27pm

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The United States team won the gold medal in the women's artistic gymnastics final, their first title since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Russia, runners-up to the US at last year's World Championships, finished second, with European champions Romania pipping 2008 Olympic champions China to the bronze medal.

Great Britain finished a highly creditable sixth, behind Canada in fifth.

That was Britain's best Olympic gymnastics team result in the post-war era.

Britain's women were unable to match the achievements of their male counterparts who won Olympic team bronze on Monday, but that was never expected against gymnastics powerhouses China, Russia, United States and Romania.

Beth Tweddle, Hannah Whelan, Imogen Cairns, Rebecca Tunney and Jennifer Pinches scored 170.495, surpassing the seventh place Britain achieved - in the absence of the boycotting Soviet block countries - at the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

Britain's only women's Olympic team medal was won at the 1928 Games with a squad of 12 gymnasts.

The result comes after GB narrowly missed out on a place in the final four years ago in Beijing where they finished ninth.

With three gymnasts competing on each piece of apparatus and all of the scores counting towards the overall total, there was no margin for error.

Britain started on beam, just like in qualification, with Cairns stepping up first and steadying nerves with a clean and confident 13.500 routine.

Pinches then tumbled off the apparatus to score 11.833, before European bronze beam medallist Whelan put on an assured display to score 13.866.

The United States began on vault, with world champion McKayla Maroney the pick of the bunch after she hit a stunning stuck Amanar vault to score 16.233, as the 2008 silver medallists rocketed into a huge early lead.

Shaky start

Britain then moved to the floor in last place after their shaky start, Pinches putting her woes on the beam behind her with a clean routine of 14.366.

Whelan's solid routine and Tweddle's slightly shaky 14.166 interpretation of James Bond theme "Live and Let Die" moved them up a place into seventh.

Cairns then opened for Britain on vault with a clean one-and-a-half twisting leap before Pinches scored 14.833 ahead of Tunney's first appearance in the team final on the apparatus, scoring 14.866.

Tweddle's specialist piece of apparatus, the uneven bars, was left until last, just like in qualification.

The 27-year-old competed last as the strongest worker on the apparatus for Britain, after fellow City of Liverpool gymnasts Whelan and Tunney.

Whelan looked confident with a slight step on landing to score 14.00 before 15-year-old Tunney hit her routine to earn 14.766 for her team.

Three-time world champion Tweddle then stepped up to the apparatus and nailed her routine with a twisting double-double finish to save the best until last with a score of 15.833 - and move Britain up into sixth place ahead of Italy and Japan.

The United States, meanwhile, were doing battle with Russia for gold, with Aly Raisman's world class floor routine enough to seal the victory for the 2008 Olympic silver medallists.

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