Coach Paul Hall says “never say never” after Gymnast Louis Smith returns to training

09:52 11 January 2014

Louis Smith on the pommel horse at London 2012.

Louis Smith on the pommel horse at London 2012.

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Louis Smith’s coach Paul Hall has told The Hunts Post the gymnast should not be discounting a shot at the 2016 Rio Olympics after announcing his return to training this week.

The 24-year-old gymnast, who won silver and bronze medals at the London Olympics in 2012, confirmed on Tuesday he is back in training and that his immediate aim is to win a place in the England squad for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

But, after Smith said Glasgow would be his last competition, Hall – who has coached the gymnast since he joined Huntingdon Gym Club at the age of eight – said: “You can never say never. I thought it was the end in London and it is great to see him back.”

After winning a silver medal on the pommel horse and a team bronze in London, Smith became a household name when he won BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing programme with partner Flavia Cacace in December 2012.

In July he released his autobiography – Louis: My Story So Far – and talking to us then, he said: “At any point, if I want to get back into it, I can. I’ve not got a burning desire to compete but I miss training and still try and do a bit when and where I can.

“The stress and emotion you carry with you for four years from one Olympics to another, it takes a lot out of you.”

So does Tuesday’s announcement mean Smith now has a ‘burning desire’ again? “Louis decided just before Christmas,” said Hall. “We had a little chat and we discussed feasibility and decided to go for it.

“Louis loves the Commonwealth Games. His career really got going with a gold medal in Melbourne in 2006 so it would be wonderful if things ended on a high at a Commonwealth Games.”

Smith told the BBC: “People may assume that my achievements to date will mean a place in the team. However, that couldn’t be further from the

case.

“The strength in depth in this country is at a level it’s never been before, with a large number of hugely talented gymnasts all competing for places.”

But does it all have to end in Glasgow, where the much-anticipated Commonwealth Games will take place in July and August?

The Rio Olympics are just two-and-a-half-years away and, although Smith will be 27 then, perhaps a little bit old for a gymnast at the top of his game, he was beaten to the pommel horse gold by 27-year-old Hungarian Krisztián Berki in London.

“He is up for the challenge,” said Hall. “He is fit at the moment but obviously not competition fit. It’s going to be hard work but Louis is ready

for that.”

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