Olympic contenders getting ready to hit the road to Rio

Huntingdon Gymnastics Club stars Dan Keatings (left) and Louis Smith (centre) with Sir John Major at

Huntingdon Gymnastics Club stars Dan Keatings (left) and Louis Smith (centre) with Sir John Major at the opening of the club's new facilities in 2014. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon Gymnastics Club’s two Olympic hopefuls are gearing up to set out on the road to Rio.

Pommel horse stars Louis Smith and Dan Keatings face a battle to make the cut for the five-man Great Britain team for the Games this summer.

Smith appears to be the better-placed of the two at the moment after enjoying a fine 2015 in which he returned to his very best.

A World Championship silver medal capped a year in which he sampled European and British glory whereas clubmate and fellow 26 year-old Keatings, a former world silver medalist himself, suffered a dip in form.

Huntingdon head coach Paul Hall said: “The race for places in the GB team for the Olympics really starts this month.

“There are a lot of selection competitions with the English and British Championships, World Cup events and the European Championships in May.

“It is a very busy and high-pressured time for both guys and they are working very hard in training.

Most Read

“It is cut-throat at the top these days with a lot of top gymnasts fighting for five spots in the team for Rio.

“Louis showed he can still compete at the very highest level last year and it would mean an immense amount for him to earn selection for a third Olympics.

“He got the bronze in Beijing and the silver in London so we’re still waiting for the elusive gold and I feel it is possible if he can earn a place in the team for Rio.

“Dan also possesses a pommel routine which is world class.

“In any other country in the world he would be a shoe-in for selection for the Olympics, but we have such strong competition in Great Britain.

“Dan has Louis and Max Whitlock to contend with and it will probably end up that there is only places for two of those three in the final team.”

Smith begins his bid to impress the GB selectors when competing in the English Championships at Loughborough University which run from March 18 to 20. That will be followed by an appearance in a World Cup round in Germany at the end of the month.

Keatings has his first outing of the year when lining up in the World Challenge Cup event in Doha, Qatar from March 24 to 26.

Both men will have one eye fixed firmly on the European Championships in Bern, Switzerland in late May.