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Page last updated at 20:21 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 21:21 UK

Keatings secures historic silver

WORLD ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Venue: O2 Arena, London Dates: 13-18 October Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, the red button and BBC Sport website (UK only)

Daniel Keatings

Video - Keatings wins World silver

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport at the O2 Arena, London

Daniel Keatings created history at the O2 Arena by winning Britain's first ever medal in the men's all-around event at a World Championships.

The Corby 19-year-old made a nervy start to the final but finished second behind Japan's Kohei Uchimura.

"It was a dream before and now it's a reality," the Scot told BBC Sport.

Wolverhampton's Kristian Thomas took a similarly stunning sixth in the event, made of the floor, pommel horse, high bar, rings, parallel bars and vault.

Until recently, British Gymnastics could never have dreamt one of their athletes would take a World Championship medal on home soil.

Keatings delighted with silver

No British men had reached the top 10 in the all-around event at this level, let alone won a medal, but Keatings and Thomas both consigned that record to history.

Britain now has two of the world's top six male gymnasts, after their stunning performances under intense pressure.

"It is out of this world - I'm speechless," added Keatings. "There were big expectations, but I managed to get through it."

World champion Uchimura, 20, earned his gold in some style, delivering routines a class apart to win the competition with a score of 91.500, well clear of Keatings' 88.925.

But the composure with which Keatings held his nerve to complete his final event, the high bar, and seal a silver medal will live long in the memory.

His first routine of the night, the floor, saw his feet bounce out of the zone, but he settled on his links to brush off the penalty and start in solid fashion.

Keatings, coached alongside Louis Smith by Paul Hall, excels in the pommel horse, and his score of 15.500 was the crowd's first indication that he could challenge for the medal rostrum.

OLLIE WILLIAMS BLOG

A controlled performance on the rings was followed by a vault which reproduced his fine display on the apparatus in qualifying, then a confident, skilful parallel bars routine.

When Keatings kept his cool on the high bar and landed safely, the crowd erupted - but everyone inside the arena faced an anxious wait for the last gymnasts to complete their routines.

"I'm ecstatic and relieved," said coach Hall. "It was very stressful but just fantastic.

"He was really cool, he did a superb job - all the years of hard work have paid off."

Uchimura, who mesmerised with the difficulty and standard to which he executed his performances throughout, refused to buckle under the pressure of taking to the high bar last in his quest for gold.

The Japanese star, one of the pre-event favourites to win, dispelled any hopes Keatings had of gold with a magical routine, improving on his silver medal behind China's Yang Wei at last year's Beijing Games.

Thomas, 20, would have been delighted to squeeze into the top 10 prior to the competition, but surpassed himself with a succession of impressive displays.

His superb dismount from the rings, unbelievable score of 15.800 on the vault, and elegant performance on the floor were highlights of a performance few could have predicted.

Thomas 'ecstatic' with World sixth

"It all came together in the end," he said. "On the first few pieces I was quite shaky, but I loved every minute of it. It was one of the best feelings I've ever had."

Ryazanov sealed the bronze with a similarly impressive display on the vault, and a beautiful floor routine to finish.

United States duo Timothy McNeill and Jonathan Horton will be disappointed with their performances, particularly Horton, who had a disastrous start on the floor, lost his way during his pommel horse routine, and fell on the high bar.

The World Championships are being held in London for the first time, and will return to the O2 Arena for the Olympic Games in three years' time.

The results obtained by Keatings and Thomas, with pommel horse specialist Louis Smith still to compete in his final on Saturday, suggest Britain will now be serious contenders for medals at London 2012.

Previously, Neil Thomas, who placed 16th for Britain at the 1994 World Championships, had the country's best result at an all-around final of this standard.

Becky Downie and Rebecca Wing go in the women's all-around final on Friday and, though neither are considered medal prospects, they may feel anything is possible having sampled Thursday's atmosphere.

On Sunday, Beth Tweddle will round off the British campaign at the Worlds in the final of the floor event.



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