Mum’s nerves as Olympic hopeful Louis Smith prepares

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Proud Peterborough mum of Olympic gymnast Louis Smith says she will praying hard that her talented son does not fall as he begins his bid for London 2012 gold on Saturday (28 July).

Elaine Petch (47), from Eye, near Peterborough, says her worst fear is that Louis falls off the pommel horse as he goes through a difficult technical display during one of the first competitions of the London games on Saturday.

Olympic gymnast Louis Smith's mum Elaine Petch at home in Peterborough. Photo supplied

Olympic gymnast Louis Smith's mum Elaine Petch at home in Peterborough. Photo supplied

She said: “I just hope he does a perfect routine - then he will be very difficult to beat. I don’t like to say he could bring home a gold medal.

“I am just so nervous and it’s worse because there is nothing I can do. I will just sit there and pray that he does not fall.”

Louis will be among the first of Team GB’s to compete on Saturday at 11am in the opening day of the London 2012 Olympics.

Louis’s London 2012 timetable

Olympic Bronze Medallist Louis Smith with proud mum Elaine Petch in Eye following a successful Beijing Olympics. Photo supplied

Olympic Bronze Medallist Louis Smith with proud mum Elaine Petch in Eye following a successful Beijing Olympics. Photo supplied

Louis Smith competes in the men’s team and individual qualification rounds at the North Greenwich Arena.

The Great Britain men’s team, captained by Smith, lines up in Sub-Division One of the qualification competition.

If successful they will progress to the final on Monday.

Smith will be back in action later on Saturday when he should breeze into the final of his specialist piece of apparatus, the pommel horse.

Providing everything goes to plan, he is likely to start as one of the favourites for gold in the final on Sunday, August 5.

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Louis’s mum will be travelling to the Olympic venue on Saturday morning with Louis’ brother Leon, dad Claude and uncle Brian Townsend.

She said: “I’m not going to say I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to be so scared. I know he can do this routine, it’s so technical, but I know he can do it.

“All I’ll say is I want him to stay on, please just stay on. If he stays on he can do it and I will be happy.

“I will be so nervous. You try to protect your children but it is out of my hands when he is competing. I don’t say any of this to Louis. I just say you go out and enjoy it.

“It is exciting but it is more exciting for other people. I don’t think I will enjoy it because I am his mum.

“This is really what he has worked for all this time. This is the pinnacle, it’s here. It’s home.

“When he went to Beijing there was no media, he didn’t have any sponsors, there was no pressure, he went and enjoyed it.

“Now he has all the pressure and he doesn’t want to let anybody down. But I have seen him do this routine and he has done it perfectly and I know he can do this.”

Louis is a firm favourite in the GB squad after he was the first Brit in more than a century to win an individual medal in men’s gymnastics, when he won bronze in Beijing four years ago.

With the home advantage, many fans believe he will go all the way, not least life-long friend and pop star Aston Merrygold, one quarter of TV’s X Factor success story JLS.

Aston, who witnessed Louis’ Olympic trials, said: “Unfortunately I’m working and we don’t have any time off so I can’t be there on Saturday.

“But I will be watching very, very closely. I will make sure I see it even if it is just on my mobile.

“I think he will improve on Beijing. He is four years older, four years maturer, four years stronger, four years more determined. He is looking in fantastic shape and is in high spirits.

Aston added: “I don’t doubt he will be taking away a medal. Fingers crossed it’s gold.”

Outside his sporting preparations for the competition, Louis has made a home from home in his room in the athletes’ village.

He has even taken a cushion he made while a Year 9 pupil at Arthur Mellows Village College which has a Jamaican flag stitched on.

He posted a picture of the memento, nestled between two British lions, on his Twitter page to his 12,500 followers.

He is also carving out a niche as bit of a prankster, turning up the heat on the air-conditioning and making team-mate Kristian Thomas’s room into a sauna.