Hunts gymnasts on Beijing trail

BEIJING 2008 beckons for two of Huntingdon Olympic Gym Club s finest prospects after impressive performances in the Middle East. Daniel Keatings, 18, produced one of his best performances to date on the pommel horse to clinch bronze at the Qatar Grand Pri

BEIJING 2008 beckons for two of Huntingdon Olympic Gym Club's finest prospects after impressive performances in the Middle East.

Daniel Keatings, 18, produced one of his best performances to date on the pommel horse to clinch bronze at the Qatar Grand Prix in Doha.

Fellow club member Louis Smith came in sixth position and both gymnasts' scores were higher than the qualifying mark for Great Britain selection.

There are two available spaces in the GB team, with selection for this year's Olympics taking place in May.


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In a thrilling qualification competition the talented pair worked consistently in a field of 43 top gymnasts from around the world, all fighting for a place in the final eight. Smith worked steadily to qualify in fifth position while Keatings overcame some minor errors but gained a spot in last Wednesday's final with eighth place.

The competition was held in the Aspire Stadium - the venue for the 2006 Asian Games.

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Spectators witnessed some of the world's best pommel horse exponents fighting to establish superiority in the run up to Beijing and Keatings stunning performance was worthy of the Bronze medal.

Clubmate Smith also worked an extremely difficult exercise to finish in sixth place, less than one tenth of a pointfrom a medal.

China's Zhang Hongtao and Australia's Prashanth Sellathurai claimed gold and silver respectively.

Coach Paul Hall said: "This was a fantastic result in a World Class field and proves that Daniel and Louis are on track to challenge for a place in an Olympic final, which would be a first for any British gymnast.

"We now prepare for the European Championships in May and, hopefully, Beijing in August.'

Following their success Keatings and Smith, partnered by Luke Folwell, Ahmahd Thomas and Cameron Mackenzie, triumphed over eight other clubs from around the country to retain the senior men's British team title for the third year running.

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