THE PRETTY boy of British gymnastics will be looking to add to his pommel horse bronze medal at this summer’s Olympic Games in London.
Louis Smith took the world of gymnastics by storm when he came third in the 2008 Beijing Games as a precocious 19-year-old, the first Briton to win a medal in the sport for 80 years.
Talking exclusively to the Voice of Sport, Smith admits he never expected to take his place on the podium.
“Being 19 and it being my first games, I was a little boisterous and young. I was not consumed by the Games as some were. I just wanted to enjoy myself and it worked out well. I was unknown then and there wasn’t any press attention.
“I’ve gained a lot of experience and I’m stronger than I was in Beijing, both mentally and physically. It [Beijing] wasn’t about winning a medal; it was just about doing the best I could do."
Media attention is now something the Peterborough resident has to deal with as he regularly appears in adverts for brands, including Adidas and Next.
HOT STUFF: Smith with the Olympic Torch
“It’s good because it gives so much exposure. The attention that myself, Dan [Purvis] and Beth [Tweedle] are getting does wonders for the sport. Those people who knew nothing about gymnastics are now interested.
“Every athlete wants to make the most of the media [attention] while it’s there. But it’s important not to let it affect training for the Games.
“I’m lucky my agent and coach, Paul Hall, know each other well and everything is agreed with Paul so it doesn’t affect my training. You have to find the right balance.”
The 23-year-old continues to impress at all levels.
At the British Championships on June 24, he scored a personal best of 16.375 which would have won gold in Beijing 2008.
He also had a stellar European Championships in April where he took silver in the pommel horse two weeks after breaking a finger and also helped Team GB to the team gold.
All of which bodes well for his chances of a medal in London, but Smith doesn’t think he will be the only one to occupy a place on the podium, adding: “I would love to see Phillips Idowu do well, we have a few of the same sponsors and he’s a really cool guy. Also, Tom Daley and I really hope Shanaze Reade does well after Beijing 2008.”