The changing of the guard in British gymnastics was completed tonight when Louis Smith had to settle for a bronze medal in the pommel horse, his specialist event, behind Scotland’s Daniel Keatings and Max Whitlock, Smith’s team-mate.
Keatings took a rapturously received gold medal ahead of the two Englishmen, the favourites for the event. After two silvers in the team event and the all-round behind Whitlock and his English team-mates, this was Keatings’ moment as he claimed Scotland’s 14th gold medal of Glasgow’s Games.
The 24-year-old produced the performance of a lifetime in front of his home crowd and was rewarded with a medal that will go some way to erasing the disappointment of being left out of the British team for London 2012.
Whitlock and Smith, the team leader, had helped spark the boom in British gymnastics with medals at London 2012 and it was Smith who set the standard then with silver in the pommel horse.
Keatings was dogged by injury in the build-up to those Games and after not being selected he came close to turning his back on the sport. Smith did quit for a time and in his absence Keatings returned to the British team. Now it is Smith struggling to make it into the red, white and blue, as tonight’s positioning on the podium demonstrated.
Keatings seized his chance brilliantly, breaking the 16-point barrier. He scored 16.058, Whitlock 15.966 and Smith, in his first major competition since the London Games, 14.966.
Whitlock’s third gold of the Games came in the opening event of the afternoon with an immaculate performance on the floor. He scored 15.333, leaving him ahead of Canada’s Scott Morgan, who was awarded 15.133. Keatings was denied a medal after a crowd-pleasing routine was marred by him putting a foot out of bounds. That apart, the overall quality of his performance hinted at what was to come.
“It was amazing to be in front of a home crowd and do probably one of my best routines,” said Keatings. “I’m ecstatic to have won.”
England’s Claudia Fragapane collected her third gold of the Games – at the grand old age of 16 – with victory in the vault.
Fragapane took all-round gold on Wednesday to go with team gold. Today she achieved an average of 14.633 to take the gold from Canada’s Elsabeth Black.
“I’m only 16 and I thought it was going to happen when I was a little bit older so it was a big shock,” said Fragapane of her treble triumph.