European Championships: Great Britain's women gymnasts take silver


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The Independent Online

Great Britain's women's gymnastics team won silver at the European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, yesterday.

Hannah Whelan, Becky Downie, Rebecca Tunney, Claudia Fragapane and Ruby Harrold finished with a team total of 170.663 to place behind gold medalists Romania, who won with 172.754, while Russia finished third more than a point back from Britain.

Downie scored an impressive 14.833 on bars and also top-scored for Britain on vault (14.700) and beam (14.133), while Fragapane claimed the best score of the day on floor with 14.766, seeing off the experienced Vanessa Ferrari of Italy into second place.

The silver medal matched Great Britain's women's best result at the European Championships in Birmingham four years ago, when Downie claimed a medal with Beth Tweddle, Jocelyn Hunt, Nicole Hibbert and Niamh Rippin.

The 2014 team started their medal bid on the beam, where two-time European beam bronze medallist Whelan put in a strong performance as the team were fourth after the first rotation.

Fragapane, a 16-year-old debutant, then impressed on the floor, before Downie produced a stunning vault as they moved up the leaderboard.

Downie, Tunney and Harrold then kept their composure on the final apparatus, the bars, to move top of the leaderboard for a brief time, with Romania edging them out with their strong floor routines.

British Gymnastics head of performance, Roy Headey, said: "Silver is a great result for the team. We always have one eye on the 2016 Rio Olympics and today gave me a lot of belief about how we are progressing. Our task now is to analyse how Romania are achieving their scores and see how we can make gradual improvements so we can get up to that level ourselves. It's really pleasing to see how the team performed under pressure today."