Louis Smith, gymnast

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The Olympic bronze medal winning gymnast shares his recipe for success.

Raise Your Game: What does it take to be at the top of your game?

Louis Smith: To be at the top of the game takes an awful amount of sacrifice, dedication and hard work and I've got a fantastic coach and a fantastic mum who have kept me on the straight and narrow.

RYG: You mentioned the hard work, but there's also a lot of fun involved. How important is that fun element?

LS: It's very important. There's no point doing something if you're not enjoying it. You hear a lot of people talking about how they don't enjoy their jobs, but gymnastics is my job and I love coming to the gym. I love achieving new skills and I love the fact that I can go around the world and meet new people and go to fantastic competitions, but it's also hard work.

RYG: I've read that you always put your success down to your mum's efforts. How important has she been?

Profile

Name:
Louis Antoine Smith

Born:
22 April 1989

From:
Peterborough

Height:
179 cm

Discipline:
Mens artistic gymnastics

Strongest event:
Pommel horse

Achievements:

  • Bronze - Beijing Olympics 2008
  • Silver - Rotterdam World Championships 2010
  • Gold - Melbourne Commonwealth Games 2006

LS: My mum has been fantastic! She's ferried me from school to the gym and she's been there through thick and thin. After all the years, it's nice to be able to go to competitions and say 'Thanks mum, it wasn't for nothing'.

There are so many people behind the scenes who don't really get a look-in. There are so many people who don't get the credit, and I think without those people, a lot of dreams wouldn't be possible.

RYG: To make those dreams come true, it takes a lot of discipline. How easily does discipline come to you?

LS: Gymnastics started in the army so it's a very disciplined sport and I think it's carried through. I was a mischievous little boy when I was younger and gymnastics has really turned me into, I'd like to think, a responsible adult.

Gymnastics teaches us to be on time and to be respectful. It teaches us to work hard and to have nice manners when we meet people. It teaches general life skills and I'm really grateful for that. Gymnastics has really sorted me out, and I appreciate everything that my coach and my mum have done for me.

RYG: Where do you get the inner belief that you can achieve your goals?

LS: You have to be confident. Some people might do sport because they really enjoy it and their target is just to have fun. I've wanted to get to the Olympic Games ever since I saw it in 1996. Whatever your targets are in life, as long as you're enjoying it, you're working hard and you're trying your best, you can be happy.

RYG: At your level, what's the difference between winning and losing?

LS: Winning is nice, don't get me wrong, but it also takes losses to put you back in your place and realise what you need to do to improve. Everyone takes losses in different ways and it can affect people in different ways. If I've fallen or if I've lost an event, it makes me want to work even harder. It makes me want to get even stronger to prove I can do it.

RYG: What would it mean to you if you are selected for London 2012?

LS: It would be amazing! The hard part is qualifying and getting through the months and months of grafting and avoiding injury. To be in the team would just be fantastic, especially with the guys coming through. Everyone is fighting for a place in the 2012 team so it'd really mean a lot if I made it.

RYG: If I take you back to Beijing, how did it feel to win an Olympic bronze medal?

LS: Winning bronze in Beijing was unbelievable! At that time, I'd been training for 16 years and it's crazy to think that's all funnelled down to 50 seconds on the pummel horse! To be able to land clean and then see your name up on the board showing you've got a medal, it really is the most unbelievable feeling in the world.

RYG: How do you keep grounded after such success?

LS: I think I'm quite a grounded guy. I've come from quite a poor background where my mum didn't have a lot, and I think that's really helped me stay grounded and just get on with what I'm doing.

RYG: What would be your advice to any youngsters out there?

LS: If you've got a target, a goal or a dream, and you've got an opportunity to go for it, then do it. If you have fun and you're willing to achieve, you'll work hard and you'll want to do it for yourself. The results will follow so have fun and enjoy what you're doing!


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