Dan Purvis has spent the winter fine-tuning new routines and elevating old ones even closer to perfection, but next weekend will be the first major outing for them, the next step in an unrelenting schedule that will, hopefully, propel the Scottish gymnast towards next year’s Rio Olympics.
First up it’s the British Championships in Liverpool this week, where the three-time champion will be looking to reassert his status as one of Britain’s brightest gymnastics medal hopes. Then it’s the European Championships, which will go a long way to deciding who makes the GB squad for the World Championships later this year. It’s a gig he does not want to miss out on, not with Olympic selections resting on them and not when they are being held in Glasgow, a place that resonates with so much positivity and the scene of his Commonwealth Games medal success.
There he helped the host nation to team silver before weighing in with a bronze on the rings and gold on the parallel bars. “To get a gold medal and hear the national anthem being played was amazing. I just went out there and tried to do my best, but, looking back at it, it was absolutely fantastic. It was very emotional.”
It has also given him a taste for glory and a hankering for more medals. But, with gold, comes recognition and with that comes pressure. It was cranked up somewhat after his showings at the London Olympics, where Purvis won bronze in the gymnastics artistic team with colleagues Sam Oldham, Louis Smith, Kristian Thomas and Max Whitlock, and it has rocketed further as the 24-year-old has maintained his place amongst the elite.
“When I went back to my gym after the Olympics, it was nice to be a bit of an idol for the younger kids and now I feel like that I want to get more results, so I can hold my head up high. I know a lot of people are more interested in my results and I think that’s great for the sport as well. It does push you on to go for better results.
“It’s nerve-wracking, but that’s why you work so hard in the gym. You will always be nervous at any competition, but, if you know you are as well prepared as you can be, then that’s one less thing to stress about. I try not to worry about the routines. You have to forget how nervous you are and just go for everything
“We have tried to think of new things to put in, but nothing too extreme. A lot of it is just execution now. There are a few new things in each and we did that over Christmas and I will compete with them at the British and Europeans, but consistency will be the key.”
A bright era in British gymnastics sees quality in quantity, which has helped increase the chance of team success, but, with competition stiff to make the squad, the incentives are available to the likes of Purvis on a daily basis.
“We are all working so hard because we all want to make the British team and get to the Worlds and to Rio next year and that’s great motivation to work even harder in the gym.
“We are all great friends, but, at the same time, we all want to beat each other into the squad. It does make it more nerve-wracking because you don’t want to miss out, but it will help us have the strongest team possible for Glasgow and then for Rio.”
Having experienced big competition success, Purvis is dogged in his pursuit of more. “At the Europeans I want to do well as an all-rounder and I will aim for a medal spot. I would like to make the floor and parallel bar finals and see what I can do on those pieces. At the Worlds, first, hopefully, I can make the team and then, hopefully, do well as an all-rounder again and an individual final would be fantastic, but, really, because it is an Olympic qualifier, we need to consolidate.”
The plans are in place, the groundwork has been done, but first up there is the nation’s bragging rights to battle for.