OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Captain Smith hails gymnastics' bright future
By Tom Reynolds, Sportsbeat, London 2012
AFTER London 2012’s Girl Power start, Louis Smith helped bring some gender equality to Britain’s medal table with a historic team gymnastics bronze medal last night.
DESERVED: Sam Oldham and Kristian Thomas ecstatic after ending 100-year medal wait
After swimmer Rebecca Adlington and cyclist Lizzie Armitstead won Britain’s first medals of the Games on Sunday, Smith and co became the first Brits to win a team gymnastics medal in a century 24 hours later.
Four years ago at Beijing 2008, Smith took a sledgehammer to a 100 years of history – winning Great Britain’s first individual medal at the Olympics since 1908 with pommel horse bronze – and in London he was at it again, and he might have even been celebrating silver.
The five-strong British squad, including Smith, Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock, Sam Oldham and Daniel Purvis, were originally credited with silver at the conclusion of the six rotations however, after a Japanese appeal, they were bumped down to bronze.
But team captain Smith, who led by example on the pommel horse, before playing a watching brief – cheerleading and coaching in equal measure – couldn’t care a jot.
“This is what we’ve been working towards,” said Smith, who will look to add to his Olympic medal tally in the pommel horse final on Sunday.
“After 100 years, silver, bronze, is anyone actually bothered? Because I’m not. For it to come together on this day is incredible.
“These guys now have more experience at the Olympic Games than I have, they’ve done more routines than me. It’s just such a bright future for British gymnastics.
“British gymnastics has been growing and growing. Now everyone will be more motivated than ever.
“This means so much and we’ve still got finals left. It’s a beautiful day for the sport and for British gymnastics.”
Smith set the tone in his specialist event, the pommel horse, racking up the best score of the night before his guidance saw Britain maintain their superb focus throughout the rest of the competition.
Heading into the final rotation – the floor exercise – Great Britain were neck and neck with Ukraine, but Purvis, Whitlock and the nerveless Thomas did enough to edge them onto the podium.
A mistake by Oldham – Great Britain’s only one of the night – on the penultimate rotation, the high bar, had threatened to derail the hosts’ podium pursuit.
But Thomas produced a superb performance on the same apparatus before heading to the floor exercise.
“I had goosebumps when Kristian landed his high-bar dismount,” added Smith. “Just knowing that we had three boys left to go on the floor, and it’s one of our strongest pieces.
“After Sam made his mistake we said, ‘Look, we’re in this together, we’re a team, don’t worry about it. Let’s get behind the boys’. Kristian did that amazing high-bar and that took us beautifully into the floor.
“And then that was it, crunch time. The cameras were all gathering round so they knew we were in with a shot For me, finishing so early on the pommel horse, I had a chance to look about.
“When the guys needed to concentrate I said something sensible, and when they look a bit jittery — like Dan during his parallel-bar routine — I cracked a few jokes to get him ready for high bar.”
© Sportsbeat 2012