It’s ‘terrifying’ but Louis can’t wait to get back on world stage

Louis Smith is going for gold at the World Championships.
Louis Smith is going for gold at the World Championships.
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Louis Smith will be looking to make up for lost time when he heads to Glasgow tomorrow for the World Championships.

The Eye gymnast last competed in the World Championships back in 2011 when he won a pommel horse bronze medal.

He went on to improve that to silver at the London Olympics as well as adding a team bronze.

But it was after starring in the capital that Smith retired from the sport, only to return last year to win team gold and a pommel horse bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

If there was any doubt that he was back for good then that was washed away earlier this year when the 26-year-old secured his first ever European pommel horse title.

And as he prepares to return to the SSE Hydro and the scene of last year’s Commonwealth Games heroics for the World Championships, Smith admits he can’t wait to get back on the global stage.

“The excitement was always there but after 2012 I just needed a break,” he said.

“I didn’t know how big and how much pressure I was under until it was finished and then it dawned on me, the magnitude of everything and the weight I had been carrying for the last four years and the build-up to it.

“I just needed to try and step back. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the sport any more, it was just that I couldn’t think, so I needed a break.

“I had a break, saw people competing and realised that I don’t want to waste my time. I didn’t want to look back in 10 years and think I missed an opportunity. I’m here, squeezing every bit of lemon juice out and I’m loving it.

“Seeing the results of the 2013/14 World Championships and European Championships and not being there, I was thinking I could still beat those guys if I wanted to.

“I was out there eating a burger and chilling out and enjoying life and, don’t get me wrong, it was nice to not be under that same stress. But at the same time I was thinking to myself that if I was fit and healthy I could be beating these guys. What am I doing?

“I have been training for 21 years, why stop when you haven’t got everything out of it? So I’m back, working my backside off and it’s going very well.”

Although Smith is making his first World Championship appearance in four years, he knows the competition in Glasgow is about much more than just him.

If Great Britain make the top eight in the team event then they will secure a squad for Rio 2016 – and two-time Olympian Smith is adamant this is everyone’s main priority.

“I love being back and it is terrifying. Don’t get me wrong, when you are standing there in front of 15,000 people and you have to do a routine, but it is brilliant,” he added.

“There is nothing like it on the planet, I am in my element and I can’t wait to get out there.

“This is a very big stepping stone for Rio. The most important thing is that we qualify in the top eight, then it is done.

“We don’t want to be between ninth and 14th because then we will be doing a test event in January and then you don’t get a lot of time to rest.”

The World Gymnastics Championships is supported by the SSE Next Generation programme. They are in partnership with Sports Aid, a charity dedicated to helping young athletes reach their potential.