Gymnastics: Thomas nets silver

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

FOR Neil Thomas, coming second to the Belarus gymnast Vitaly Scherbo is becoming something of a habit. Yesterday the 26-year-old from Shropshire took the silver medal in the floor exercise at the World Championships in Brisbane. The result mirrored last year's floor medals when the event was staged in Birmingham.

The Briton saw the gold medal snatched away from him at the last moment by Scherbo, the Olympic champion, who triumphed with the final performance of the competition. Thomas, who last year became the first Briton to win a medal at the championships, finished on 9.687 for joint second place with Ioannis Melissanidis, of Greece, behind Scherbo's 9.75.

Scherbo was the last of the eight finalists to complete his routine, overhauling Thomas and Melissanidis, the European junior champion. The 22-year- old responded to the disappointment of losing his all- round crown on Thursday with a superb routine.

The winner of six gold medals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, Scherbo has failed to match those heights here, finishing third in the all-round competition while failing to reach two of the six men's apparatus finals.

The newly crowned world champion, Ivan Ivankov, surprisingly failed to qualify for any of three disciplines - floor, pommel horse or rings - which were decided yesterday. The Romanian Marius Urzica won the gold medal on the pommel horse, scoring 9.712. Eric Poujade, of France, took the silver, ahead of Switzerland's Donghua Li.

In the women's vault, the all-round champion, Shannon Miller, failed to capture her second gold medal when she fell on landing. 'It was the first time I have tried that vault in competition and I only wish I could have done a better job,' the American teenager said afterwards. That mistake allowed the 16-year-old Romanian, Gina Gogean, to take the gold with a score of 9.812. Silver went to the Russian Svetlana Chorkina, while another Romanian, Lavinia Milosovici, had to settle for bronze.

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