Commonwealth Games: ‘I’ll step it up’- Louis Smith

England's Louis Smith during the Men's Team Final and Individual Qualification. Picture: PA

England's Louis Smith during the Men's Team Final and Individual Qualification. Picture: PA

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LOUIS SMITH was relieved after performing a pommel horse routine that should see him through to Thursday’s individual final, but is prepared to step up another level for the highly anticipated showdown.

The 25-year-old England gymnast was second only to team-mate Max Whitlock in the opening session of the Commonwealth Games team medal and individual qualifications on the apparatus on which he won Olympic silver two years ago.

Smith, who is appearing in his first major competition since London 2012 after a break from the sport, scored 15.700 to Whitlock’s 15.733 with Scotland’s Dan Keatings also looking set to make Thursday’s final at the Hydro with a score of 14.533.

“There is definitely more to come,” Smith said.

“If I make the pommel horse final, I’m definitely going to step up the routine. It depends on where I am. If everyone else has fallen off, I might do an easier one.

“Today was amazing. I think you can see the relief on my face. It’s been a hard journey to get where I am, in terms of getting back fit again.

“I am still shedding the puppy fat from last summer, but it’s so great to be here with the guys and be back in this atmosphere. It’s been really good fun.”

When asked what was going through his mind when he first saluted the judges before approaching the pommel horse, Smith said: “This is it. If I mess up now then everything’s gone down the drain. So there’s a lot of pressure.

“I had a job to do today. I am in the team event so I had to focus on what I really needed to do, and that was post a good score, and I did that.”

After the opening session, with the qualifications and team medals set to complete on Tuesday evening, England’s men - Smith, Whitlock, Kristian Thomas, Sam Oldham and Nile Wilson - sat top of the pile with a score of 133.806 for the floor, pommel horse and rings, with the parallel bars, high bar and vault to come on Tuesday.

Scotland’s five of Dan Keatings, Dan Purvis, Frank Baines, Adam Cox and Liam Davie were second with 127.240, while Canada were third with 125.380 ahead of the evening session. Wales’ men were fourth with 122.339, ahead of Australia and New Zealand.

In the women’s competition, Wales scored 81.398 after competing on the bars and vault to sit top of the team standings ahead of South Africa and Singapore at the halfway stage on the opening day, with a brief appearance by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry appearing to provide inspiration for the home nations.

Smith was pleased with the start made by England, adding: “The team performance - we kicked a*** today. I hope we can do it tomorrow as well.”

Thomas was also satisfied, however he feels the format of the competition - with gymnasts having to return on Tuesday to complete all six pieces of apparatus - is not ideal.

“The main job today was to be positive and not really worry about the gymnasts from the different countries. We did that today,” he said.

“There were a few errors here and there. We knew that was going to happen, in a home nation with the atmosphere and pressure, but we picked ourselves up and finished really strongly. Overall, it was a really good day.

“The format is pretty difficult, to be honest. It’s the first time we’ve done it and probably the first and last time we will ever do it. We’ve been training in this format for the last month so we’re not completely new to it, but we’ll find out tomorrow.”

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