World Gymnastics: Harrold, Tunney and Downie reach finals

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter in Antwerp
Harrold and Tunney reach world final

Britain's Ruby Harrold and Rebecca Tunney have booked places in the women's all-around final at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

Harrold and Becky Downie will also go in Saturday's uneven bars final after delivering superb qualifying routines.

"I'm so happy, I could cry. I've got nothing to lose now," said Downie, who missed last year's home Olympics.

GB's Max Whitlock and Dan Purvis are in the men's all-around final on Thursday, with the women's all-around on Friday.

Whitlock and Purvis are also in action in Saturday's pommel horse and floor finals respectively, alongside Kristian Thomas in Sunday's vault final.

Following the retirement of two-time uneven bars world champion Beth Tweddle, Downie and Harrold demonstrated that British flair on the apparatus lives on.

Downie, in particular, produced an almost perfect routine despite a fall in her warm-up to score 15.100 and qualify in fourth place for the final.

The 21-year-old from Nottingham said: "I'm just so relieved now that it's done. It was a huge pressure I felt - I knew it was possible and I was so close so many times. I just had to stay calm.

"We played it a little bit safe but the routine was very new, so it was a gamble coming out with this routine anyway. We'll see how it goes [in the final] and hope for the best."

Harrold, 17, qualified in seventh place for the same final after scoring 14.600 with a confident bars routine, which included her signature, explosive Zuchold-Schleudern element.

"I've never been so scared for anything in my life, but once I got into the swing of things, it just flowed and I enjoyed it," said the Somerset gymnast.

"In podium training [the bars routine] hadn't been going very well. To come out and do it when it mattered was brilliant."

Harrold's other pieces - the floor, vault and beam - gave her an overall score of 54.232, enough to reach Friday's all-around final alongside team-mate Rebecca Tunney.

Tunney, 16, scored 54.132 on Tuesday to finish as the 18th qualifier for the all-around (the top 24 go through), with Harrold 16th.

"It was a great competition," London 2012 Olympian Tunney told BBC Sport.

"There were a few mistakes - a little bit on the bars and a fall on beam - but this was my first senior Worlds. My aim was to have fun and do what I could."

Hannah Whelan, Tunney's 21-year-old colleague at the City of Liverpool gym, finished 21st in qualifying for her only event - the floor - in which she scored 13.366.

Russia's Aliya Mustafina, the 2010 all-around champion expected to challenge for this year's title, suffered major errors on the beam, floor and vault on Wednesday but still came through to qualify for the all-around final in fifth place.

Simone Biles, the 16-year-old who dominated this year's United States national trials, led qualifying with a score of 60.133.

She leads team-mate Kyla Ross, who scored 59.198 to qualify second. More than a mark separated them from the rest of the field.

Fellow American McKayla Maroney had the sixth-best all-around score in qualifying but will not reach the final as only two gymnasts per country are permitted.

Whitlock and Purvis are the next gymnasts in action for Britain, in Thursday's men's all-around final.

"I'll hopefully go out there, stay chilled and enjoy it," said 20-year-old Whitlock, a double bronze medallist at last year's London Olympics, who has set his sights on becoming Britain's leading all-around gymnast.