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October 14, 2009

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Home » Sports » Gymnastics

Deviatovski takes early lead at worlds

MAXIM Deviatovski of Russia took the early lead in qualifying at the world championships in London yesterday, edging Tim McNeill of the US and Daniel Keatings of Britain.

Deviatovski scored 89.350 points, while McNeill jumped ahead of Keatings on the final event. McNeill's impressive parallel bars routine gave him 88.775 points, putting him just ahead of Keatings (88.4).

Kazuhito Tanaka, who led early on, dropped to fourth after a fall off the pommel horse.

Olympic silver medalist Kohei Uchimura and Jonathan Horton, the main contenders for the men's all-around title, compete in later qualifying sessions.

Deviatovski is one of the sport's most enigmatic performers. Immensely talented, he got kicked out of Russia's training camp after failing to finish the men's all-around after hurting himself on the parallel bars at the 2007 worlds.

Deviatovski didn't do anything spectacular yesterday, but his smoothness and control set him apart. His best event was vault. He got huge height on his double front somersault and landed with a solid thud. He had to bend deeply, but he managed to not take a step.

Keatings, a big factor in Britain's recent resurgence, was greeted with shrieks and cheers of "Come on, Dan!" every time he stepped on the floor. "It helps me," Keatings said. "I like people getting behind me."

Keatings got off to a surprisingly rough start. Pommel horse, his second event, is one of his best and the first half of his routine was "perfect."

But as he neared his dismount, he misplaced his hand. He struggled mightily to avoid falling, but couldn't keep from spilling.

"Silly mistake, really," he said.

The fall likely cost him more than a point, but Keatings rebounded with a nice routine on still rings, an event that had been giving him trouble in training. His vault was impressive, landed so solidly he may as well have had glue on his feet.

His high bar routine, his final event, wasn't flashy, but he did it with smoothness and ease, and fans were already cheering by the time he hit the mat. He smiled and gave a sweeping wave to the arena, and there was another cheer when his name moved to the top of the standings.

It was a brief stay, though, with Deviatovski and McNeill yet to do their final events.

Still, Keatings wasn't complaining. "For a couple of mistakes, it's quite high. It's a really good score," Keatings said.


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