LOUIS Smith won a silver medal at the 2012 men’s artistic gymnastics European Championships on Sunday - the day after he had been part of the Great Britain team that won a first ever Championship gold.
The Huntingdon-born and based pommel horse specialist produced a clean round at Montpellier in France and was awarded 15.775 ponts - but it was his long-term rival, the Hungarian Kristian Berki, who pipped the 23 year old to the gold, with a final round of 15.958.
“The routine was alright,” said Smith, who chose to perform a less-riskier routine than the one he had originally promised. “It was a little bit shaky with a lot of pressure on but I’ve gone clean again. A little bit of form break may have cost me the medal but overall I’m happy.
“The week has been superb for British Gymnastics with the team title, so to add a silver to that wraps it up nicely.
“I went for my easier routine today which was the sensible decision. I’ve proved this week I’m capable of big scores so it puts me in a confident mood going forward.”
Daniel Purvis, Kristian Thomas, Ruslan Panteyleymonov and Max Whitlock were the other member of the gold medal winning team on Saturday.
The five competitors were close to faultless throughout the event and sealed a winning score of 266.296 ahead of Russia in second (265.535) and Romania in third (261.319).
Smith said: “After the pommel I was into team leader role, trying to encourage everyone and keep them focused and that’s exactly what they did.
“This is my first European gold and it’s history in the making for Great Britain. It’s great to be a part of.”
British Gymnastics Olympic performance director Tim Jones added: “Today’s a really important step looking ahead to London, and a fantastic achievement.
“There will be a lot of people who thought they would never see this day and to have both the junior and seniors as champions of Europe is a tremendous result.”
Dan Keatings, who like Smith is coached by Paul Hall at Huntingdon Gym, missed out on the chance to compete at the championships after injuring ankle ligaments six weeks ago.
The 22 year old has been working hard to get himself fit in time to be selected for the GB Olympic team.
Keatings said: “I’m training fully on everything again. They just didn’t want to push me too far and push me too quickly, so they have given me time to recover fully to give me the best possible chance.”
Team GB’s gymnastics teams will be announced on July 4. However, Smith has qualified for the pommel horse in his own right and will face gold medalist Berki again on August 5 at the North Greenwich Arena.