23-year-old Louis Smith from Eye, Peterborough is refusing to pile pressure on himself at the European Championships despite being one of Britain’s best hopes for gymnastics gold at the Olympics this summer.
The city pommel horse specialist will compete in the tournament later this week in Montpellier, France, with the sole intention of ironing out the creases in his tougher routines ahead of the London Games.
Smith ended Britain’s 80-year Olympic medal drought in gymnastics four years ago in Beijing when he claimed bronze in the pommel horse final behind Xiao Qin of China and Croatia’s Filip Ude.
The Peterborough-born gymnast freely admits that securing a medal at London 2012 is his main focus, with this week’s European Championships a stepping stone to book his place in the five-man GB squad.
“The Olympics is where it’s at,” he said. “That is the pinnacle, that is the competition.
“It’s not about the European Championships, it’s not about the test event or these grand prixs. It’s about London and performing your best routine.
“It’s trial and error and learning from your mistakes to make sure you get it right on the day.
“If I was to go to the European Championships and make a mistake, it’s not: ‘Oh my God, Louis has fallen off at the European Championships,’ it’s: ‘He’s made a mistake and knows what not to do for the Olympic Games and he knows what to do to change it, how to correct it’.
“I think some people lose track of it.”
Smith will compete alongside team-mates Daniel Purvis, Max Whitlock, Kristian Thomas and Ruslan Panteyleymonov.
With Olympic trials fast approaching and the five-man squad for London 2012 announced on July 4, competition for places is heating up.
Purvis, who finished fourth in the all-around competition in last year’s World Championships in Tokyo, revealed he will debut some new additions to his routines in Montpellier.
The 2010 World and European floor bronze medallist is hoping to add some “wow factor” to his pommel and high bar routines in a bid to stick in the judges’ minds before London 2012 and boost him up the rankings.
“I’m trying a few new skills in my routines,” Purvis said.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to do that at the Europeans and hit them going into the Olympics and feel confident adding them to my overall start value.
“It will up my difficulty level and stick in the judges’ minds that is something a bit newer so hopefully it will give me a few more tenths (of a mark).
“I’ve competed them before in control comps but the main one will be the Europeans which is where I’m going to try everything.
“Hopefully if I can get a better profile for the Games it will put it in the judges’ minds that I stand a better chance for an all-around spot.”
Purvis is also hoping to build on the gold medal he won in last month’s floor final of the World Cup event in Croatia, where he tied for first place with Greece’s Eleftherios Kosmidis.
“It was a really good final with all of the best people in the world so that’s what I’m going to target as an individual,” Purvis said.
“It’s just minor tweaks which will get my start value higher and hopefully if I can polish them all up then the overall score could be a mark higher, which would be fantastic.”