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Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK

Eaton keen to take part

Welsh hopes of gymnastics gold have suffered a huge blow following a knee injury sustained by British champion David Eaton in training.

Ligament damage will rule him out of five of the six disciplines, but the 21-year-old from Hinckley in Leicestershire, is keen to take part in the pommel-horse event.

Welsh men's coach Gareth Irwin said: "David is a brave and determined type of guy, and still sees a British Commonwealth Games as a chance to do his best in front of a home crowd.

"We have a good medical staff here with us who will tape and brace the knee so he doesn't aggravate the injury.

"The pommel-horse is one of those pieces of apparatus that doesn't require high impact starts and finishes, so hopefully that won't affect his knee too much."

And Eaton, who has been studying psychology at the University of California, shouldn't be ruled out of contention for a medal, according to Irwin.

"It's a shame that things have turned out this way"
Coach Gareth Irwin

"David is British champion at the event, so is likely to be in the running. Having a bad knee won't help, but we're hoping for the best," he said.

Another injury worry, Gareth Davies, is expected to be fit despite suffering an ankle injury.

Irwin said: "Gareth twisted his ankle in the podium training and needs rest.

"We're fairly confident that Gareth will be fit, but he has to look after himself for the next couple of days.

"It's his third and last Commonwealth Games and he's desperate to compete.

"The team was looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd and had built a great collective spirit and it's a shame that things have turned out this way."

With the double injury blow, the performances of 15-year-old David Muir, who will be the youngest male gymnast involved in Manchester, is set to be thrust into focus.

Muir said: "I'm looking forward to it but I'd rather have been part of a full team to build my experience."


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