Louis Smith beats big rival but still has to settle for silver

HUNTINGDON gymnast Louis Smith followed on from his European Championship success by maintaining his medal winning record at the prestigious Maribor Gymnastics Grand Prix, held in Slovenia.

Olympic medal hopeful Smith managed to beat arch rival Kristian Berki of Hungary to take the Silver in a closely fought pommel horse final that saw Prasanth Sellathurai of Australia take the gold by just over a 10th of a point. Smith, who won a silver at the Euros, with Berki claiming the gold, performed a routine which is considered the most difficult in the world and came second with a rating of 7.1. The routine included a unique triple Russian element that only Smith has ever attempted in competition.

Sellathurai capitalised on a small loss of form from Smith which came early on in the routine, but the British squad member was happy with the outcome.

He said: “This was my last international before the Olympic Games and I’m really happy to have finished ahead of Kristian Berki and to have performed my most difficult exercise at such a high level competition.

“Now there are just a few weeks of fine tuning before the British Championships - and the big one at the end of July.”

Clubmate Dan Keatings had mixed fortunes, failing to qualify on the pommel horse and parallel bars due to falls in both routines, but making high bar final and finishing fifth in the world class field.

Keatings has been recovering from an Achilles injury and faces a tough few weeks as he tries to impress the Olympic selectors at a Grand Prix in Belgium next week and the British Championships in Liverpool.