Smith wins bronze at “mad” World Championships in Japan

HUNTINGDON gymnast Louis Smith continued his march towards next year’s London Olympiad by taking a bronze medal on pommel horse at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan, at the weekend.

In a final riddled with falls and mistakes the 22-year-old managed to perform the most difficult routine ever seen at international level to take third place behind Hungary’s Krisztian Berki, and Cyril Tomasone of France.

The result means a second World Championship medal for Smith, and adds to an already impressive tally of European, Commonwealth and Olympic medals.

“That final was just mad,” said Smith. “I’m so happy to have gone out there and put out my hardest routine but that was crazy having to wait to see how everyone else got on.

“I cannot believe I got the bronze – but to go and there and do that routine that I’ve worked so hard on; no-one knows how good that feels.

“When I knew I was in the final I said to my coach ‘I want to try the hard routine’. In training and the warm-up I felt really good; I woke up singing so knew I was in good shape – it was an unfortunate slip at the end but I’m really happy overall.”

The result was a great boost to the Great Britain men’s team following a disappointing start in Japan which saw them miss their opportunity to qualify for five places in London by finishing just outside the top eight.

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Southport’s Daniel Purvis finished fourth in the all-around final behind local boy Kohei Uchimura who wowed the crowd with an incredible exhibition of faultless gymnastics that earned him his third consecutive world title.

Smith and the other members of the men’s team, including fellow Huntingdon gymnast Dan Keatings, will now have to try again and finish in the top four of the O2 Arena test event in early January next year.

Huntingdon coach Paul Hall said: “While it was disappointing not to qualify a team at the first opportunity, the results from Louis and Dan Purvis do show that we have realistic chances for medals at the Olympics next year.”