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Daniel Keatings beats Louis Smith to pommel horse gold

Daniel Keatings

Highlights - GB's Keatings clinches Euro gold

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham

World silver medallist Daniel Keatings trumped team-mate Louis Smith to win gold on the pommel horse at the men's European Championships in Birmingham.

Keatings, who won silver in the all-around at the 2009 World Championships, scored 15.600 to push Olympic pommel bronze medallist Smith into silver.

"The opportunity was there. Louis had a shaky routine going up first and that opened the door for me," said Keatings.

GB's Daniel Purvis shared floor bronze as German Matthias Fahrig won gold.

Not only is Keatings the first European champion in the history of British male gymnastics, he is now the only British man to have won a title at this level or above. There has never been a British male world or Olympic champion.

When Louis split his legs on the pommel horse I was a bit gutted for him, but I knew it opened a door for me

Daniel Keatings

The fact that his gold was backed up by silver for Smith, who had been expected to win the final even by British coaches, is testament to the new-found strength of the men's sport in the United Kingdom, with two years to go until the London Olympics.

"We're the best of friends, we want each other to do the best we can," said Keatings of his relationship with Huntingdon club-mate Smith.

"But you're thinking about yourself as well. When Louis split his legs on the pommel horse I was a bit gutted for him, but I knew it opened a door for me."

Smith said: "It was a close competition. I had a big error on my routine but luckily I stayed on the horse and got it done.

"If you look at the positives, we were one and two on the podium, and it could have been anyone's game.

"I'd rather get beaten by Dan than someone else. He did a great routine and coped with the pressure."

As Sunday's individual apparatus finals began, Britain did not have to wait long to follow up Saturday's success, where their five-strong squad won a team silver medal.

Smith was first to compete in the eight-man pommel horse final, but had to work hard after mid-routine errors.


He almost toppled off the horse in a near-echo of the same disastrous mistake he made at the 2009 World Championships in London, but found enough momentum to keep moving before a flamboyant finale earned him a score of 15.375.

In the absence of defending champion Krisztian Berki of Hungary, who surprisingly failed to progress from Friday's qualifying, Smith looked as though he might cruise to gold.

But Keatings - who fell from the pommel in Saturday's team event - pulled out a peerless routine competing second-last, never looking back from an excellent starting handstand to score 15.600.

Romania's Flavius Koczi, last to go, came up short as he struggled to find the difficulty required to overhaul Keatings, and could not challenge him.

Even by that early stage, Britain's senior men had an individual medal safely stowed thanks to Purvis in the opening floor event.

The 19-year-old grew in confidence during his floor routine, shaking off some very slight errors to produce a superb final landing for a score of 15.250.

Daniel Purvis

Highlights - Britain's Purvis wins floor bronze

The powerful Fahrig, however, knew he had wrapped up gold ahead of Greece's Eleftherios Kosmidis, leaping from the floor with a broad grin even before his score of 15.650 had been announced.

Sunday's competition at the National Indoor Arena saw Europe's top gymnasts compete for individual honours on the six sets of apparatus - the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar - after Smith, Keatings and Purvis helped Britain to silver, behind Germany, in Saturday's team final.

However, there was no all-around final (where scores on all six pieces produce an overall winner) at the event. Keatings won silver in the all-around at last year's World Championships in London.

Finland's Tomi Tuuha was the surprise champion in the vault, Italy's Matteo Morandi won the rings and Vlasios Maras of Greece took high bar gold, all events in which no Briton reached the final.

We have overshot the line in terms of targets by far

Louis Smith

Purvis finished the parallel bars final, won by France's Yann Cucherat, in last place having scraped through qualifying, while Britain's other finalist on Sunday, Kristian Thomas, came fifth behind Purvis on the floor.

Several leading gymnasts are missing from the European Championships after teams from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine were prevented from travelling by problems related to the volcanic ash cloud which spread over Europe in the run-up to the competition.

Earlier on Sunday, Britain's junior male gymnasts continued their rich vein of form with three more individual gold medals.

Max Whitlock won the floor and pommel horse events, while Sam Oldham took gold on the high bar.

Unlike the seniors, the juniors do have an all-around competition, which was won by Oldham on Saturday with Whitlock in second, while the duo led a British squad to junior team gold on Thursday.

"We have overshot the line in terms of targets by far," said Smith, referring to the performances of the entire British team. "The juniors have done fantastically well, it's been absolutely amazing."


Keatings delighted to pip Smith to gold

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Volcano fails to halt European Gymnastics
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Keatings secures historic silver
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