London 2012 Olympics: GB gymnast Louis Smith feeling ‘sharp’
London 2012 Olympics: Great Britain gymnast Louis Smith says he is feeling "brilliant" ahead of this summer's Games
Louis Smith has spent 19 years preparing for three make-or-break minutes at London 2012 – the Olympic bronze medallist is only too aware there are no margins for error.
After winning Great Britain’s first individual Olympic gymnastics medal for a century in Beijing, 23-year-old Smith has high hopes of upgrading to pommel horse gold at North Greenwich Arena.
Even his main rival Krisztian Berki of Hungary, a two-time world champion, believes Smith has the harder routine and therefore the edge should all go to plan.
Smith isn’t one to do things by halves or seek the easy option. Three years ago at the World Championships, held at the London 2012 venue, Smith fell flat on his backside and finished last as again he took the competition head on.
Since then world silver and bronze have followed while this year he was runner-up to Berki at the European Championships – and he’s vowed to go for broke at London 2012
“Personally, I feel brilliant. I’ve got a few creases to iron out, but mentally I’m sharp and feel ready,” said Smith, who has trained at Huntingdon Gymnastics Club since he was four.
“At the Games I’ll do a 50-second piece, three times. I’d better get it right.
“There’s pressure, you can’t run away from it. Now it’s getting close there’s more of everything, publicity, photo shoots, and a lot more interest, which in turn adds more pressure and more expectation.
“Your life could completely change. Any sportsman or woman wants to be able to further their career outside sport and that’s a very feasible option with the Olympic Games.”
While Smith was ploughing a lone furrow at Beijing 2008 in terms of competing for podium places, he will not be alone this time around and the men’s team – where he is joined by Daniel Purvis, Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock and Sam Oldham – are dark horses for a medal in London.
Absent from London however will be Smith’s training partner in Huntingdon, Dan Keatings, who has been plagued by injuries since winning world all-around silver in 2009.
And Smith is full of sympathy for his close friend, who has been listed as a reserve.
“The team is such a good team and my main message to them is to enjoy themselves as for a lot of them, it’s their first Olympics, but not going to be their last,” he said.
“But it’s unfortunate that one of my team-mates Dan Keatings couldn’t be in the team.
“I’ve trained with him since I was 10 years old, but he’s in a strong position as well. He has the hardest job – he’s a reserve and has to deal with not making the team, but still maintain a level of fitness to still compete.”
© Sportsbeat 2012