Tokyo: The British men`s team are on the cusp of earning a spot at next summer`s London Olympics despite a shaky performance in qualifying at the left them in sixth place on Monday.
The top eight teams qualify for London, and Olympic champion China, Russia, France and South Korea are all still to come. Japan leads qualifying with 364.291 points, followed by the United States, Germany, Romania and Ukraine.
Teams that are ninth through 16th at worlds advance to a second qualifier in London in January, where the final four Olympic spots will be determined.
The British have not qualified a full men`s team for an Olympics since the Barcelona Games in 1992, and they seemed to be on track to get it done here midway through their session. But they melted down in spectacular fashion over the final three events, with two falls by 2009 all-around silver medalist Dan Keatings and major errors by Kristian Thomas. Britain had to count three scores below 14 points over the final rotation.
But Louis Smith bailed the British out on pommel horse, the event where he won the Olympic bronze medal.
The British were in danger of slipping behind Spain in the standings after Keatings` hands slipped off the horse as he worked between the pommels, sending him tumbling to the mat. But Smith was almost flawless in his routine which, with a 6.9 start value, is the most difficult one done here so far. He worked his way carefully around the pommels, the slap of his hands on the horse the only sound in the silent arena. He displayed perfect form, and his swings were huge.
He landed his dismount and shouted "Yes!" before running off the podium.
His score of 15.6 was enough to nudge Britain ahead of Spain into sixth place.