Kristian Thomas today revealed his pride after claiming an historic bronze medal at the World Gymnastics Championship, writes Nick Mashiter.
The Wolverhampton Olympian became the first ever British gymnast to win a world medal in the vault after a score of 15.233 yesterday. It capped a successful Championship in Antwerp for GB with Max Whitlock taking pommel horse silver and finishing fourth in the all-around final.
Olympic bronze medallist Thomas’ place was in doubt after he fractured his leg in March which ruled him out of the European Championships.
And the 24-year-old, a member of the Earls club at Halesowen, admitted he was stunned after almost missing the cut following an injury-hit year.
He said: “Three weeks ago I was still battling to try to get into the team. To nail the first vault the way I did was so special.
“It’s amazing. It’s been a roller-coaster year and to get that medal – I couldn’t be any happier.
“To make the final was the first aim then to get a medal I’m over the moon, really, really happy and proud.”
He was beaten by South Korean winner Yang Hak-Seon, who scored 15.533, and American ace Steve Legendre, who took silver with 15.249.
And Thomas was praised by fellow medal winner Whitlock, who was making his world championship debut.
“Today, watching Kristian’s final on the vault was really good. For GB to come away with two medals is amazing,” said Whitlock, a double bronze medallist at London 2012.
There were also finals for world championship debutants Ruby Harrold (all-around and bars) and Rebecca Tunney (bars) with Rebecca Downie joining Harrold in the bars final and Daniel Purvis seventh in the men’s all-around final.
They all train at Lilleshall with Thomas and continued GB Gymnastics’ impressive form since the Olympics last year with Thomas insisting they are serious contenders.
He added: “To see the level of gymnasts which is on show is amazing and Great Britain are competing with the best in the world. Long may that continue.
“Once again the British gymnasts have proved how good we are and I’m delighted to have contributed to that success.
“I’m going to go home and work on a second new vault.”