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Rio Olympics: Disappointed Max Whitlock urges team to target individual finals after medal near miss

By Mark Staniforth

World champion Max Whitlock urged his team-mates to forget about their medal near-miss after Great Britain were edged into an agonising fourth place in the men's team gymnastics final at Rio Olympic Park.

Louis Smith's fall on the final pommel horse rotation cost his team any remaining slim chance of edging back into the top three position they had held until being overtaken by China in the penultimate phase.

A stunning set on the parallel bars by the reigning Olympic champions left Whitlock and Smith with an almost impossible task on their favoured apparatus, where they are expected to go head to head for individual gold later in the week.

Rio Olympics 2016: Live blog, full events schedule and medals tables

In the final scheme of things Smith's stumble hardly mattered - he would have had to have significantly bettered the score with which Whitlock had claimed the world title last year to give the Britons any chance of re-entering the top three.

Ultimately, Britain- also including Kristian Thomas, Nile Wilson and Brinn Bevan - fell short by just under two points, scoring 269.752 behind China's 271.122. Favourites Japan finished strongly to take gold with 274.094, ahead of silver medallists Russia with 271.453.

Whitlock said: "It's disappointing - we knew we had the potential to be right up there. It wasn't the best we could ever do, and some of the scores were lower than we usually get, but that's the way sport is.

"We've got to look forward to the finals now and forget about it. Obviously it makes you want to go back and produce some big results and it is about going out there and doing the job."

As well as the pommel, Whitlock has strong medal chances in the all-around and on the floor, while Wilson qualified in second for the high bars final, underlining his contention with another clean performance on Monday.

Whitlock said: "I've just got to focus on my job and not worry about what anyone else is doing. It's all about clean routines."

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