Olympics: Daniel Keatings fails to make GB team but still has a chance
Great Britain boast such a pool of male gymnastic talent they can afford to leave Scotland’s former European champion Daniel Keatings out of their Olympic squad, according to gold medal hope Louis Smith.
Keatings, who won pommel horse gold in Birmingham two years ago and all-around silver at the 2009 World Championships, missed out on a place in the five-man gymnastics team which was announced in Loughborough yesterday. Smith, a bronze medallist in Beijing four years ago, will compete alongside Daniel Purvis, Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock and Sam Oldham at the London Games but admitted Keatings’ omission was a tough one.
“It’s sad that he didn’t make the team,” said Smith. “I’ve trained with him for years and years and am friends with him and his family. It goes to show you the strength-in-depth of the squad so you’ve got to remain positive and support the guys in the team. It’s a very good team and it’s unfortunate that he couldn’t be in it.”
However, Keatings could still make the Games if a member of the team is struck with a late injury. Smith said: “Dan is still training. He’s in the reserves slot so if anything did happen he will be jumping at the chance.”
British Gymnastics Olympic Performance director Tim Jones revealed the decision to omit all-around medal hopeful Keatings came after hours of discussion about the best fit for the team. Keatings, who has recently been recovering from ankle ligament damage, was not part of the squad who won team gold at this year’s European Championships – their first-ever team gold at a major competition. His place has been filled in the Olympic squad by 19-year-olds Whitlock and Oldham, who also pushed out Ruslan Panteleymonov, a member of the team who claimed gold in Montpellier.
“We’re going to the games and we’re obviously looking to get the best team result alongside the best all-around result alongside the best apparatus result,” Jones said. “That’s when the decisions have to be made as each of the gymnasts bring with them different strengths. There’s a lot of gymnasts who come with us along the journey. Some of them have fallen away earlier than others but, when it came down to it, the men’s probably had eight or nine gymnasts within consideration. But the decisions we’ve made we’re going to stand by.”
Smith, a strong medal prospect in London, admits he is feeling the weight of expectation more than ever. The 23-year-old set a new personal best of 16.375 on the pommel horse at last month’s trials.
“It’s very different from Beijing,” Smith said. “I’ve grown as an athlete, mentally I’m a lot stronger than I was four years ago.”
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