GB gymnast Max Whitlock impresses in qualifying at Euros

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GB's Max Whitlock on 'unbelievable' qualifying for all-round final

European Gymnastics Championships

Venue:
Moscow, Russia
Date:
17-22 April 2013
Schedule:
17 April - men's qualification; 18 April - women's qualification; 19 April - men's & women's all-around; 20-21 April - men's & women's individual finals
Coverage:
Live coverage of all-around finals on Friday 19, 1pm-4.30pm (BST), BBC 2; Saturday 10:30am-2pm (BST) Red Button and online only; Sunday 1pm-2.30pm (BST) BBC Two.

Double Olympic gymnastic bronze medallist Max Whitlock put his name among the all-around medal contenders at the European Championships in Russia with an impressive qualifying display.

The 20-year old, competing in all six disciplines for the first time at a major international competition, scored 89.365 to lead the rankings.

Team-mate Daniel Purvis will join him in the last 24 on Friday.

Daniel Keatings, Sam Oldham and Ashley Watson all reached individual finals.

Great Britain's women begin their campaign on Thursday.

"I couldn't have asked for a better competition out there," Whitlock, who also reached the individual pommel horse and floor finals, told BBC Sport.

"I wanted to try to go clean, and to qualify in first position is amazing."

Whitlock leads the standings ahead of Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine (89.331) and Russia's David Belyavskiy (88.265)

He added: "It's hard to say [whether I can win a medal]. There are lots of strong athletes out there, but I was a little off at times today because of the nerves, so hopefully I can perfect that in the finals."

Keatings, who won European gold in 2010 but missed London 2012 after a series of career-threatening injuries, was delighted to scrape into the pommel horse final in eighth position as he continues his attempt to return to the summit of the sport.

"It was so nerve-wracking," said the 23-year-old, who had to wait over an hour before learning he had progressed.

"Just seeing that score come up and knowing I was in the final was just amazing as a comeback and know I've done the hard part. I'm in there and have a chance, which makes me really happy."

Scores of 15.366 on the floor and 14.783 on the high bar were enough to secure London team bronze medallist Oldham, 20, positions in both individual finals.

"It was a great day for me," he said.

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"It's been a long five months leading up to this event, taking time off after the Olympics, but I started back early and I'm doing new routines and to get two finals - I'm really happy."

He will be joined in the high bar final by Ashley Watson, 20, from Leeds, whose impressive score of 14.633 gave him the eighth and final qualifying place.

A youthful four-strong British women's team, deprived of any London Olympians through a combination of retirements, injuries and loss of form, will have the chance to show their potential during qualification on Thursday.

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