TOKYO (AP) — The British men can skip the souvenir shopping, Louis Smith has them covered.
Smith won the bronze medal on pommel horse Saturday, ending Britain's world gymnastics championships on a high note after a dreadful start. The British men have now won at least one medal at the last four worlds after managing a grand total of two in the first 90 years of the championships.
"I think I'm more relieved," said Smith, who is also the reigning Olympic bronze medalist on pommel horse. "It's nice to come to a world championships and come away with something, whether it be in the team event or the all-around. ... I think it's positive that, despite what happened in men's qualification, me and Daniel Purvis came away from that, trained a little, cleared your head and did a fantastic competition."
The British are a team on the rise, and many expected them to contend for a medal this year. Not only did they fail to make the podium, they missed out on one of the eight spots available here for next summer's London Olympics. They'll now have to go to a second qualifier in London in January.
Purvis eased some of the pain with his fourth-place finish in the all-around Friday night, missing a medal by about three-tenths of a point. It's the second-best finish ever at worlds by a British man, behind Daniel Keatings' silver in 2009.
But it's the hardware everybody wants.
Smith does the hardest pommel horse routine in the world — his start value of 7.0 is three-tenths of a point higher than anyone else's — and he was dazzling for all but the last few seconds. But he seemed to lose his rhythm on his dismount and had to fight not to land on his head. He stayed upright, but needed to take a step off the mat to steady himself.
With six gymnasts still to go, including defending champion Krisztian Berki and 2004 Olympic champion Teng Haibin, Smith didn't think he had any shot. But Kohei Uchimura fell, as did Prashanth Sellathurai. When Teng, the last competitor went up, Smith was still in third place.
"When Teng Haibin was on pommel horse at the end, I was thinking that I'm happy with fourth," Smith said.
But a few seconds from the end of his routine, Teng went spinning off.
The bronze medal was Smith's.
"I just could not believe. Could not believe it," he said. "It's mad. Crazy."
Smith finished behind Berki, of Hungary, and Cyril Tommasone of France. It's his third world medal.
"I think everyone will be proud that we could at least come away with something," Smith said.
SUPER SUB: Jake Dalton is getting used to competing on short notice.
The American learned about an hour before Saturday's floor exercise final that Marian Dragulescu had dropped out and Dalton would be taking the Romanian's place. Dalton was the first alternate.
It was similar to the American Cup in March, when he got the call to compete the morning of the meet.
"That's what I was thinking about was American Cup and how they threw me in at the last second," Dalton said. "I'm confident in my gymnastics, so I was just ready to do my routine."
Dalton finished third at the American Cup, but couldn't duplicate that result at worlds. He went out of bounds on his first tumbling pass, and had several other wobbly landings and form errors. He was last of the eight finalists.
Still, Dalton was happy just being on the floor. This is essentially the 20-year-old's rookie season on the international scene, and his experience at these world championships should help him — and the U.S. team — at next summer's London Olympics. He had the highest U.S. score on vault in both qualifying and team finals, helping the Americans win their first world medal, a bronze, since 2003.
"Obviously I stepped out on my first pass and that was a little upsetting, but I'll look back at it and I was in the floor finals at worlds. That was my goal," said Dalton, a junior at Oklahoma. "I wanted to do a little bit better, but just getting the experience out of this is pretty amazing."
AGE-DEFYING: At this rate, maybe Oksana Chusovitina should keep going until she's 40.
The 36-year-old won a silver medal on vault at the world gymnastics championships on Saturday, finishing a half-point behind 15-year-old McKayla Maroney. It's Chusovitina's ninth medal on vault, and 10th overall.
Chusovitina competed for the Unified Team at the 1992 Olympics, then her native Uzbekistan in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens. She moved to Germany in 2002, so her son, Alisher, could be treated there for leukemia. She has lived there ever since, and switched nationalities in 2006 to express her appreciation for her adopted country.
Chusovitina won her first individual Olympic medal at the Beijing Games, taking the silver on vault.