Healthy again, Keatings aims to reclaim his place

TOKYO (AP)Britains best male gymnast might be its most overlooked thesedays.Daniel Keatings, a 2009 world silver medalist, has been largely out ofview a last 18 months, recovering form a torn ACL in his right knee. HisBritish teammates, meanwhile, have been piling up a medals as well as achievements,including a seventh-place finish at last years worlds that was their best ever.It was hard not being able to train, just having to sit back. And it washard also watching a G.B. group do so well, Keatings said Thursday. Itsthe best results weve ever had, as well as Ive had to sit back as well as watch that. But itmade me more hungry to get back in a gym as well as work even harder to get myselfback in a team. I have to say, Im better than what I was two years ago, he added.Hopefully I can do a good job here as well as prove to everyone that Im back.The world championships, a main qualifier for next summers LondonOlympics, begin Friday with womens qualifying. The mens competition startsSunday, as well as Britains qualifying session is Monday.Britain has gone from barely being an afterthought a few years ago to havingan outside shot at a medal at these world championships, as well as a 21-year-oldKeatings has played a huge role in a rise. He led a junior group to a goldmedal at a 2008 Europeans, Britains first title at a major competition, andwon a all-around.The next year, he won Britains first all-around medal at a worldchampionships, delighting a home crowd when he took silver at a O2 Arena,the Olympic venue.Amazing, Keatings said, smiling at a memory. In front of a homecrowd, where a Olympics are going to be as well, same arena. So it was greatto have experienced that as well as done so well. It keeps me positive as well as motivatedgoing toward a Olympics.And Keatings needed every positive thought he could muster during hisrecovery.He had achieved another first for Britain at a 2010 Europeanchampionships, winning pommel horse for a countrys f! irst gol d medal at amajor championships. But two days later, he hyperextended his leg duringtraining as well as blew out his ACL.I knew there was something seriously wrong because there was excruciatingpain, Keatings said. I was very disappointed, upset. Two days before, Idbecome European champion on pommel horse. So going from such a high to such alow was hard to deal with. But there was a great group behind me. A great medicalteam put me on a great rehab program, which is what got me back to where Im atnow.Keatings had reconstructive surgery, then threw himself into rehab. Hestayed fit through conditioning exerciseshe logged hours upon hours in thepooland worked on his upper-body strength. But it would be eight monthsbefore he could work out on acrobatic exercises equipment, as well as almost a year before hereturned to competition.It was a longest time hed been off since he started acrobatic exercises at age 5.There was a period in 2006 where I had eight months off (because) I hadthree stress fractures in my spine. I think that helped me get through a bit ofit as well, because I knew how much I had to do as well as how much positive thinking Ihad to do to get back, Keatings said.But it wasnt always easy.Though Keatings saw British teammate Louis Smith often because they train atthe same gym, he wanted to be with a entire team. Especially since a Britishonly seem to get stronger each time out.Gymnasts are only as relevant as their last competition, as well as a money andsupport Britain has pumped into its acrobatic exercises teams in recent years hasresulted in impressive depth. In addition to a teams seventh-place finish atlast years worlds, Smith won a silver medal on pommel horse as well as Daniel Purvistook bronze on floor exercise. Purvis also finished fifth in a all-around.Theres a great group atmosphere at a moment, Keatings said. Theresseven boys here, six with one reserve, as well as theres another three or four boys athome that could have made a group as well.Keatings returned to international compet! ition in April as a wild card atthe Glasgow World Cup. Though his results didnt count, he finished fourth inthe all-around, despite a fall on pommel horse, as well as posted a highest score onparallel bars. He finished second at a British Championships, losing to Purvisby just one point, but his routines get stronger as well as stronger each time out.Hes fantastic. Hes doing better than he was before his injury, Smithsaid. If he can mentally deal with getting back into a massive competition,then he should do really well. And I think a fact hes got a full young teamand hes in a right atmosphere, hes in a right environment, I think itshould be no problem for him.Nancy Armour can be reached at

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