Shannon Miller: Downgrading is tough – but it's part of the sport

Your team were sensational last night. You should be really proud

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The Independent Online

Last night's decision to demote the Great Britain men's gymnastics team from silver to bronze medallists may have been unpopular but it was correct.

It is always tough when teams get downgraded but Japan deserved those extra points – they earned the silver, and ultimately the right call was made.

Sometimes in the fast pace of competition, decisions can be made hastily and details can be missed. But this is exactly why there is a thorough appeal process, which was followed through by the Japanese.

I've heard it said that sports and disciplines which do not have a definitive scoring system should not be included in the Olympics. What has to be remembered, however, is that gymnastics is a subjective discipline and so such a system would be inadequate.

Ultimately, the gymnasts know and understand the way in which they are being scored. It's unfortunate, it's always horrible when decisions get changed – but it's just part of the sport.

What's really important is that this doesn't take away from the achievement of Louis Smith, Daniel Purvis, Kristian Thomas, Matt Whitlock and Sam Oldham. This is, after all, the first time the British men's team has won a medal for 100 years.

And that's just it – they did not lose silver last night, they won bronze. It is a quite unbelievable achievement and nothing less than they deserve for a wonderful performance.

So Britain are winners after all, and the team my heart really goes out to is Ukraine. They were due to win bronze before Japan leapfrogged both them and Britain.

Yes, it's hard being downgraded but you still win that Olympic medal, you still stand on that podium. Ukraine thought they would be joining Britain and China up there. That, for me, is the toughest blow.

But we really shouldn't dwell on that. What's important for the host nation is that your team were sensational last night. The British men started things off with a bang on the pommel horse, in which they are probably the best team in the world, the crowd got behind them and things just went from there.

There's no doubt the crowd helped them, how can they not? They were going crazy: it was so, so loud in there. It's always very, very special when a home team comes through with the medals at an Olympics and that was up there with anything I've witnessed.

It was a truly special night for British gymnastics. You should be really proud.

Shannon Miller is a US former Olympic gymnastics championa and Yahoo! Sports Analyst. For more news and analysis, go to