Dan Purvis: Rio qualification priority in Glasgow

Dan Purvis on the parallel bars during training at the SSE Hydro. Picture: SNS Group
Dan Purvis on the parallel bars during training at the SSE Hydro. Picture: SNS Group
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THE last time Dan Purvis competed in Glasgow the Scottish poster boy took time to conquer his nerves but, in the end, showed a brave heart, opting to go big.

On the parallel bars he cast caution aside and showed steely resolve to execute his most difficult routine and take gold.

A year on, he has returned to the Hydro, this time representing Great Britain at the World Gymnastics Championships. The focus is on team success, with the primary ambition securing a top-eight finish and qualification to next year’s Olympics in Rio.

“It’s great to be back. Coming in and seeing the arena brings back memories of last summer and that was a fantastic experience,” he said. “It is great to feel such positives vibes and, hopefully, it will be an advantage for all of us because we all competed at the Commonwealth Games, so to be back with the World Championships is great.

“I can’t wait. Walking out at the Commonwealth Games, it was just electric. At first, it was like, ‘wow, this is unbelievable’ and, hopefully, this time I have more experience and I can take it in.

“It was fantastic, but it was also quite intimidating on the first piece. I can be settled straight away this time and then, the more the competition goes on, the less the nerves will be, but the more fight we’ll get with the Glasgow crowd behind us.

“They will really push us, especially towards the end when you start to get a bit tired. Hopefully, we can take advantage. It is a massive advantage.”

In Glasgow, he also collected a silver in the team event, Scotland finishing runners-up to England, and a bronze on the rings, so he knows the arena holds encouraging memories for everyone in a team that is proving more and more difficult to get into.

He has already expressed his ambition to not only help GB qualify for Rio but a desire to ensure he maintains the standards needed to ensure he is part of the team. “This is going to be my sixth world championships and it has been great so far,” said the 24-year-old. “ I’m still pushing as hard as I can and it has been difficult to get into this team this year because everyone is so good and we have a lot of juniors coming through, maybe a squad of 15 pushing for it now, so it’s great. But knowing it was in Glasgow, it was a massive aim of mine, so I’m happy and I just want to perform as good as I can.

“The year has gone really well so far. The Europeans in France were really good but that wasn’t a team competition and I prefer team competitions, if I’m honest. I like having all the lads behind me and the crowd seem to get more into it. So, if we can finish on a high here, qualify [for Rio] and hopefully there will be some medals, then we will walk away happy.”

The team came through the podium training unscathed, with fitness vital as they head out in the first qualification group on Sunday morning, aware that they can’t afford any slip-ups. Notoriously difficult to head out first, scoring is tougher as there is nothing to compare performances to but that is where the experience in the team counts.

“The Olympics [in 2012, where Team GB took bronze] was the same,” he added. “We were in the first qualification then, so we are used to it and, hopefully, we hit our routines clean then we will know we have done enough.

“It is quite difficult because you don’t know what everyone else is going to do. It makes it a long two-day wait, but, if I can hit my routines clean, then it would be fantastic if I could get into one of the [individual] finals,”

With the Olympics looming and guaranteed qualification dependant on a strong team performance in Glasgow, the individual baubles and ambitions have been forced to take a back seat, but they know a welcome by-product of high scoring in the team qualifications would be the opportunity to contest for the medals in the all-round competition and the apparatus finals.

The parallel bars are again a strong part of the rotation for Purvis, with the floor also capable of reaping big rewards if he can harness the nerves and channel the adrenaline he knows will be coursing through his body.

“Yeah, the parallel bars and the floor apparatus are both high pieces for me and I would love to hit them. Individually, I will try to come in the top 24 and be able to do the apparatus finals.

“One of them would be great but that’s the best-case scenario, but the important thing is the team.” says the Scot, who claims his body is in such good shape that he feels like he is 18 again and is looking forward to being part of a team, even if it does bring extra pressures.

“Yeah, I would say there’s more [pressure] but at the same time I am more confident with everyone behind me.

“You can hear your team shouting for you and that’s a lot more enjoyable. Even in my routines, I try to think of a keyword that someone is saying and it helps me stay on the apparatus. Everyone has their own different ways to think about it, but having the team there really does help me.”