FOR gymnast Daniel Keatings, who missed out on competing at the Olympics because of damaged ankle ligaments despite winning five medals (including two golds) at the British championships shortly before the team for the Games was chosen, the next year will be a build-up to an event that he hopes can replace London for him.
Keatings gained some measure of revenge in April by beating the reigning Olympic champion Krisztian Berki on the pommel horse to win gold at the European Championships for the second time in his career. Now, he says, the next year is a succession of tournaments at which he feels the need to prove himself time after time.
“We start with the world championships in October, then the European championships in April and then the Commonwealth Games, so this year it’s constant,” he says. “Having missed out on London, the home Games in Glasgow are going to be my Olympics. It was tough not to be in the team for London, a huge thing for me, but I’ve grown up with those guys that were in the team, they’re like family, so I was desperate for them to do well and just had to be there to see it. Being in that arena in front of a home crowd going crazy just whetted my appetite and has helped sharpen my focus. I’ve definitely got a point to prove next year.”
With the 23-year-old’s ankle now apparently fully recovered, the next 12 months are all about getting as much high-quality competition as possible ahead of competing in the all-round competition and perhaps his speciality – the pommel horse – and the parallel bars. In the meantime, though, training sessions have taken on an extra edge.
“Even before the Olympics finished the banter about the Commonwealth Games had started,” he says. “The [Team GB] coach Andre [Popov] just sat back and listened and laughed. He coaches three English guys [Louis Smith, Kristian Thomas and Max Whitlock] and three Scots [Keatings, Daniel Purvis and 18-year-old junior European champion Frank Baines] so the chat is non-stop and we’re all even more desperate to do well so that the other lot don’t get bragging rights. There’s this real rivalry that’ll be played out in Glasgow – I can’t wait.”