Keatings hopeful of a European spot after fine weekend in Liverpool

Corby's Daniel Keatings competes in the MAG Masters Apparatus Finals during the British Championships at the Echo Arena, Liverpool. Picture by Peter Byrne
Corby's Daniel Keatings competes in the MAG Masters Apparatus Finals during the British Championships at the Echo Arena, Liverpool. Picture by Peter Byrne
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Corby’s Daniel Keatings is confident he will be back on the selectors’ radar for next month’s European Championships after he won three British titles and two masters titles at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.

Keatings added to his three senior golds earned on the pommel horse, parallel bars and high bar on Saturday with a masters double - which are apparatus finals competed by senior, junior and youth age categories - with victory on the pommel and p-bars in yesterday’s competition.

The 2009 all-around world silver medallist, who missed out on a place in Great Britain’s five-man Olympic squad last summer, showed his intent to avoid becoming the forgotten man of British gymnastics when he pipped newly-crowned all-around champion Max Whitlock to the pommel horse title in yesterday’s morning session before beating Whitlock again to parallel bars gold in the afternoon.

The six-strong men’s squad for the European Championships, which is being held between April 18 and 21 in Moscow, is set to be announced on Thursday and Keatings believes he has done enough to be in contention.

“I’m pretty happy. I came here to win a few medals and only wanted to compete on three pieces and managed to pick up five out of six golds,” Northamptonshire star Keatings said.

“Unfortunately I didn’t make a gold on my last piece (the high bar) but I’m pretty happy with how it has gone over the two days.

“I hope my performances this weekend were enough to get selected for Euros but we will have to see.

“There are only six places and there are 12 boys who can make that team. You really do have to up your game to make sure you have one of those spaces and that is what I have tried to do this weekend by coming here this weekend. I’m still at the level I’m at.”

Keatings chose to only compete on three pieces of apparatus this weekend, leaving out the vault, floor and rings, in a bid to strengthen his knee and ankle after recent injury problems derailed his hopes of Olympic selection.

The 23-year-old said: “I’ve been injured for the past two years and kept getting injured coming back to form, so I decided to give my legs a bit of a rest for a few months.

“I haven’t finished doing all-around. I’m going to come back to it near the end of the year. I just want to give it a good rest by the end of it and get these three pieces really consistent and get high scores, and then hopefully I can get back to the all-around again.

“If I’m fit, maybe for the world championships but if not it will be by next year.”

Keatings’ form will provide a much-needed boost for selectors as all-around star Kristian Thomas has been ruled out of the European competition due to injury.

The 24-year-old Wolverhampton-born gymnast, who played a key role in securing the first Olympic men’s team medal for Britain in a century at London 2012, suffered a knee injury during the vault at last weekend’s French World Cup event and is expected to be out for up to three months.

A spokesperson for British Gymnastics said: “Kristian Thomas sustained an injury to his right knee whilst competing in France.

“He is currently being assessed and managed by the medical team and is expected to be out of competition for eight to 12 weeks.”