Gymnastics: Daniel Keatings back on the horse

Daniel Keatings overcame the Olympic champion as he took gold in Moscow. Picture: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters
Daniel Keatings overcame the Olympic champion as he took gold in Moscow. Picture: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters
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SCOTLAND’S Daniel Keatings reclaimed his European pommel horse title, while Max Whitlock become Great Britain’s first male European floor champion after he shared gold with Israel’s Alexander Shatilov yesterday in Russia.

Whitlock also won bronze on the pommel horse at the European Gymnastics championships in Moscow as his competition medal haul increased to three after he won silver in yesterday’s all-around event.

Keatings, who won the European pommel horse crown three years ago in Birmingham, proved his comeback from two injury-plagued years was complete when he saw off Olympic champion Krisztian Berki of Hungary with a gold medal- winning routine of 15.600.

Berki finished with silver after scoring 15.533, while Whitlock took bronze with a score of 15.500.

In the floor competition, Whitlock shared gold with Shatilov after they both scored 15.333. Sam Oldham (14.400) finished in fifth place.

For Keatings, the result is the culmination of a remarkable comeback.

The 23-year-old missed out on the London 2012 Olympics after two years of injuries saw him fail to regain his fitness in time for the Games.

In May 2010, a scan revealed he had damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in a fall during training. It ruled him out for more than a year, with his return in late 2011 cut short when an ankle ligament injury further derailed his Olympic preparations and saw him miss out on last year’s European Championships, where the British men’s team won their first ever team gold at a major competition.

Corby-born Keatings, who was part of the Scotland team in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, said: “It felt like I had something to prove after missing out on the Olympic team and I’ve been working really hard.

“I came here, had a bit of a shaky qualification and just scraped into the final after making a small mistake. To go clean in the final and to beat Berki, the Olympic champion, is just everything.

“This is my first Europeans in two years and the first chance I’ve had to defend my title and I’ve done it.”

Whitlock made a piece of history himself by becoming Britain’s first ever men’s European floor champion.

“It’s a little bit crazy,” he said. “To win a gold medal in the Europeans is an amazing feeling.”

In the women’s bars final, Britain’s Becky Downie and Ruby Harrold both fell during their routines to finish in seventh and eighth place.