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British Men Face Off for Double Defense in Sofia
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The British men are "looking forward to the challenge" of defending both senior and junior titles at the upcoming European championships, men's head coach Eddie Van Hoof told IG this week. Pictured: Max Whitlock (Great Britain)

The British men are "looking forward to the challenge" of defending both senior and junior titles at the upcoming European championships, men's head coach Eddie Van Hoof told IG this week.

Great Britain will be the defending senior champion at the 2014 Men's European Championships, May 19-25 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The junior team is the three-time defending champion, and British gymnasts finished 1-2 in the all-around at the past three Junior European championships (2012, 2010 and 2008).

"The team event – senior and junior – is our main focus, so stability and clean execution will be the focus for the next two weeks," Van Hoof said. "Everyone is in fine spirits and looking forward to the challenge of defending two team titles."

The team is set to be finalized this week, Van Hoof said, after a victory over France, Germany and Switzerland this past Saturday in Sotteville. The team included Max Whitlock, Sam Oldham and Dan Purvis, three of the five members of its historic bronze medal-winning squad from the 2012 Olympic Games in London, plus Dan Keatings, Frank Baines and Ashley Watson.

"I was generally very pleased with the British performance in France," Van Hoof said. "It gave us an opportunity to experiment with possible working orders for the team and to use other potential team members. There were one or two errors, but that is no bad thing as it helps to focus the attention for the next two weeks."

Keatings and Whitlock were both golden at the 2013 Europeans in Moscow, where the format featured all-around and apparatus finals for seniors only. Whitlock tied for first on floor exercise, was second all-around and third on pommel horse, while Keatings won pommel horse over Olympic champion Krisztian Berki. Oldham won the silver medal on high bar.

In Sotteville, Great Britain defeated France by nearly seven points, 270.350-263.550, with Germany third and Switzerland fourth. The team had the top total on every event except for still rings, finishing behind France by four tenths on that apparatus. Strength on still rings will be an area of improvement as Great Britain marches toward the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Van Hoof said.

"We know that rings is a weaker apparatus for Great Britain," he said. "All the athletes perform as all-around athletes and to gain the higher value strength elements requires time and detail to physical preparation. Our team is still relatively young and hasn’t reached full maturity to cope with these demands at the same time as all-around. Steady progress is being made and should bear fruit in time for Rio."

External Link: British Gymnastics

International Gymnast magazine's recent coverage of British men's gymnastics includes:

"Shooting Star" – Brinn Bevan profile (June 2013)
British men's team on cover photo collage (March 2012)
"10 Questions with Coach Paul Hall" – interview (January/February 2010)
Sam Oldham on cover photo collage (July/August 2010)
Sam Oldham interview (June 2010)
"Nervous Purvis" – Daniel Purvis profile (November 2012)
"Pure Purvis" – Daniel Purvis interview (March 2012)
Daniel Purvis cover photo (November 2011)
"Divide and Conquer" – Kristian Thomas interview (May 2012)
"The Good Shepherd" – Coach Ed van Hoof interview (April 2013)
"Lord Max" – Max Whitlock interview (June 2013)
"Lilleshall: Backstage in Britain" – cover story on British national program (November 2011)

To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

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