“It’s incredible,” he said, “we’ve put in so much hard work and the support we’ve got from the support staff and my mum, my dad, all of our families, my personal coach and our sponsors is just incredible.”
The roars of the home crowd, which included the Royal Princes William and Harry, certainly helped the team performance. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s crazy the support we got and it’s an experience that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
Sam topped Team GB’s performances on the parallel bars, but suffered an uncharacteristic fall during his horizontal bar routine: “Obviously I was gutted but I couldn’t waver,” he explained. “I managed to finish as clean as I could and just cheered on the team like I normally do.”
The drama wasn’t over there though. Initially announced as silver medallists, Sam and his teammates were pushed back to bronze following a Japanese inquiry which saw the team’s score increase by 0.7 and subsequently put them in second place. “We’re still the third best nation at men’s artistic gymnastics and that’s just incredible and hopefully that will inspire young people,” Sam said.
But Sam wasn’t the only Youth Olympian in action yesterday. Back in the pool, Great Britain’s Tom Daley managed to dive into 4th place in the 10m synchronised platform. After topping the rankings for three rounds, a slip in the fourth round left China in first place. “It just wasn’t our day,” he said, “but we’ll come back stronger.”
Also in the pool, South Africa’s Chad Le Clos swam into the men’s 200m butterfly after finishing 4th in his heat and 2nd in his semi-finals. He will race again tonight in what’s sure to be a nail-biting final against Youth Olympic Games Ambassador Michael Phelps.
In other Youth Olympic Games news, despite picking up well-earned sets, tennis players Ons Jabeur (Tunisia) and Veronica Cepede (Germany), unfortunately lost their first round matches, while Eve MacFarlane and her fellow New Zealand teammates put up a good fight, but failed to qualify for the final of the quadruple skulls.
Elsewhere, Illia Charkeika from Belarus progressed through the morning qualifications for the 10m air rifle to make his first Olympic final where he finished a respectable 7th; Augustin Mallifer rowed into the semi-finals of the quadruple skulls and New Zealand’s Jess Fox paddled into the semi-finals of kayak slalom after a spectacular second run. Damien Hooper from Australia also won his first bout in the boxing 81kg, making it through to the next round on Saturday.
An eventful day in the Youth Olympic Games world for sure! The class of 2010 are on their way to success.