Daniel Keatings strikes historic silver at World Gymnastics
DANIEL Keatings is Great Britain's first all-around world medallist after scooping silver at the World Gymnastics Championships in London.
MEDAL HERO: Daniel Keatings claims Britain's first ever all-around world medal with a silver in London
The 19-year old produced a masterful display of 88.925 to place second behind Japan's Olympic silver medallist and overwhelming favourite Kohei Uchimura, with Russia's Maxim Devyatovskiy claiming bronze.
Having finished 20th at the Olympics last year, the Corby teenager has come of age this season, striking all-around silver at April's European Championships in Milan.
But despite qualifying fourth highest for the final, few were expecting Keatings to place so high in a competition which also featured Olympic bronze medallist Benoit Caranobe.
Even Keatings himself insisted he didn't consider himself a medal-contender.
"I'm absolutely over the moon with the silver," said Keatings, "I came here hoping to make the final so to finish with a medal is incredible.
"It wasn't a great start with my performance on the floor but I managed to pull myself together for the rest of the apparatus.
"I'm looking forward to 2012 now. The crowd helped me keep my head up and pushed me along and this has given me a taste of what it will be like in three years time.
"I know the expectation will be on me to perform at the Olympics but I'm ready to take on all the hard work that I need to do. I want to push my routines even further to see what I can do."
The Brit has a reputation for consistency on the pommel horse and proved his metal with a faultless routine, earning him 15.5 to make up for his 14.25 for a shaky opening floor exercise.
Keatings was in the same rotation as Uchimura and after just two stages the Olympic silver medallist was in charge on 30.525 but the Brit was firmly in contention, 0.775 points behind in third.
The rings beckoned next for the teenager and his relief was visible after escaping from his weakest apparatus with a safe 14.2 - nearly a point better than his effort at this year's European Championship - to stay in the medal hunt with three disciplines remaining.
A 15.45 on Keatings' best apparatus, the vault, was quickly followed by a 15.05 on the parallel bars leaving the teenager in second with just the high bar remaining.
The tension was unbearable as the young Brit stepped up to complete his routine but Keatings wasn't about to throw away his first major championship medal and after a conservative routine, he landed safely to the rapturous cheers of the home crowd.
Fellow-Brit Kristian Thomas was also in action in London but, competing in his first major final, he wasn't expected to keep up with the medal contenders.
But the 20-year old more than held his own at the O2 and finished sixth with an excellent vault and a complex floor performance standing out for the 2008 British all-around champion.
"On the first few pieces I was quite shaky, but I loved every minute of it. It was one of the best feelings I've ever had," said Thomas.
Coach Paul Hall paid tribute to his charge, while officials from British Gymnastics struggled to contain their glee. Not only is Keatings their first all-around world gymnastics medallist, but both he and Thomas are the first gymnasts to finish in the top-15 at this level.
"I'm ecstatic and relieved," said coach Hall. "It was very stressful but just fantastic.
"Daniel was really cool, he did a superb job - all the years of hard work have paid off."