Joe Fraser inspired a remarkable comeback as Great Britain claimed a bronze medal in the men’s team final at the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool and with it a qualification place for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
The hosts looked down and out after two falls on the pommel left them languishing in eighth and last place at the halfway stage, but a nerveless finish on the high bar saw Britain pip Italy to third place by less than one-and-a-half points.
The hosts finished on 247.229 ahead of the Italians on 245.995. China bounced back from a disappointing qualification campaign to surge to gold with a total score of 257.858, while Japan, who had qualified on top of the standings, held on to take silver on 253.395.
The five-strong British team of Fraser, Jake Jarman, James Hall, Giarnni Regini-Moran and Courtney Tulloch had started with expectations of a first men’s podium finish since 2015 after qualifying for the final in second place behind the Japanese.
A solid start on floor was undermined by a dreadful rotation on pommel, so often the apparatus that has brought the British team success in recent years.
Hall and Fraser both came off the apparatus to score 12.2 and 10.466 respectively, meaning they collapsed down the standings and sat rock bottom, more than four points off the Italians who were holding on to third place.
A further fall on vault by Jarman, the European and Commonwealth Games champion, did not help the hosts’ predicament but scores of over 14 by both Regini-Moran and Tulloch kept them in contention with two rotations to go.
Performing under immense pressure, Fraser delivered a brilliant 15.0 with his parallel bars routine, punching the air on his dismount, and leaving it with all to play for in the concluding high bar.
Hall, Fraser and finally Jarman all delivered on the high bar, effectively going head to head with the Italians, who produced two strong pommel routines before a fall on dismount by Yumin Abbadini effectively sealed Britain’s comeback bronze.
Fraser told BBC Sport: “I made it very hard for us. I made a lot of errors on pommel and I was doing my best not to let it get to me.
“I makes me really emotional because I knew how hard everyone worked, and I almost thought I’d thrown it away.
“So to be able to pull it together and come away with the bronze, I could cry. We all made sure that we pulled it together on the apparatus when we needed to.”