World Gymnastics: Louis Smith hails 'best' Great Britain squad

By David McDaidBBC Olympic sports reporter
Britain's Louis Smith
Louis Smith won Olympic silver on the Pommel Horse at London 2012
World Gymnastics Championships
Venue: Hydro Arena, Glasgow Date: 23 October to 1 November
Coverage: Live on BBC Two and online from 27-30 October (19:00 BST), BBC One on 31 October (13:30) and BBC Two on 1 November (13:30).

Louis Smith believes the men's team for the World Gymnastics Championships is Great Britain's strongest ever.

The three-time Olympic medallist, 26, is one of six British men selected for the event in Glasgow, which begins on Friday.

Last year in China GB men had their best World Championships result, coming fourth in the team event.

"We were 23rd in 2003 and now we're top five so you can see the progression," Smith told BBC Sport.

"This is definitely the best team we've put forward for a World Championships - and the hardest team to get into," he added.

Along with Smith, fellow 26-year-old Kristian Thomas is also a veteran at world level.

"If we can keep our nerve and keep our cool we can definitely put the pressure on the likes of China and Japan," said Thomas.

Also in the men's team are Dan Purvis, Nile Wilson and Brinn Bevan.

The women's team is made up of Becky Downie, Ellie Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Amy Tinkler, Ruby Harrold and Kelly Simm. They finished sixth in Nanning last time around.

What are the Rio 2016 implications?

The top eight men's and women's teams also guarantee their places at the Rio Olympics next summer.

The teams placed 9-16, who do not make the finals in Glasgow, will have another chance at the Rio test event in April next year.

Nations who are in neither bracket can still qualify individuals for Rio if they make the podium in apparatus finals in Glasgow.

Max Whitlock - Great Britain's medal hope

In the individual all-around competition in China last year, Max Whitlock won a silver medal. He is now regarded as one of the best all-around gymnasts in the world.

The 22-year-old has endured a tough 2015. In March he was unable to defend his British all-around title due to a bout of glandular fever.

However, after several months of rest and careful scheduling Whitlock recorded a personal best all-around total of 91.6 at the London Open in September.

"If I do clean routines and get my target scores then hopefully results will come," Whitlock told BBC Sport.

The Essex man will also hope to push for the apparatus podium in pommel horse and floor.

Max Whitlock
Max Whitlock recorded a personal best score at the 2015 London Open

GB women - debutants making a big impression

Before she had even turned 16 in June, Ellie Downie had already made British gymnastics history.

In her first senior international competition at the European Championships this year she surprised the field by winning the individual all-around bronze medal - the first of its kind for a British woman at a major international championships - with a score of 56.623.

As well as the younger Downie, Amy Tinkler is also making her first senior World Championships appearance.

The Durham teenager, who celebrates her 16th birthday on 27 October, is the current British all-around champion.

Claudia Fragapane returns to the same arena where she won four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games last summer.

Uchimura - going for his sixth all-around title

Japanese athlete Kohei Uchimura, 26, is the current Olympic all-around champion and in Glasgow he will try to win an incredible sixth consecutive all-around world crown.

Last year in China he bettered Whitlock by nearly 1.5 marks to once again take individual all-around gold, although the media-shy star has been suffering from a shoulder injury.

USA women - hoping to continue dominance

The USA women's team at these World Championships includes the current Olympic all-around champion and the reigning world all-around champion. They are also the defending team champions.

Simone Biles, 18, won her second all-around world title in 2014 and would become the first woman ever to win three back-to-back if she were to continue her streak in Scotland.

Compatriot Gabby Douglas is back on the world stage having taken a break from the sport after winning Olympic gold at London 2012.

Another member of the American team, Aly Raisman, also returns to the fold after her own gymnastics sabbatical. She is also the Olympic floor champion.