Louis Smith: Gymnast eyes return to Team GB colours

By David McDaidBBC Olympic sports reporter
Louis Smith
"If I could also get first place here at the European Championships I'd be serious contender for that and beyond to Rio"
Artistic Gymnastics European Championships
Dates: 15-19 April. Venue: Montpellier, France
BBC coverage: Friday, 17 April 13:00-15:00 BST on BBC Two and 17:30-20:15 BST on Red Button. Saturday, 18 April 13:00-15:30 BST on BBC One (14:20 in Scotland). Sunday, 19 April 13:30-16:00 BST on BBC Two.

Louis Smith is aiming to make the Great Britain team for the World Gymnastics Championships - and perhaps also at the Rio Olympics.

The pommel specialist has begun training on parallel bars to make himself more versatile.

"The Worlds is the last major competition before the Olympics and I want to prove I'm not just a pommel specialist," Smith told BBC Sport.

"If I could get first place at the Europeans I'd be a serious contender."

Smith is currently in Montpellier where he qualified top for Saturday's European pommel final.

That marked his return to GB colours for the first time since the London Olympics 2012, after which he retired from the sport to concentrate on other interests, also winning Strictly Come Dancing.

The 25-year-old came out of retirement last year with the goal of making the England team for the Commonwealth Games - where he won team gold and pommel bronze.

But with the versatility within the current crop of British male gymnasts, Smith, as a one-apparatus gymnast, has been subsequently viewed as a 'luxury' pick for Team GB.

"I've always been training on parallel bars on and off," said Smith. "With the strength of the GB team at the minute I have to be doing more than just pommel.

"Kristian Thomas, who makes the team [but is not an all-around gymnast], doesn't do parallel bars, so someone has to cover.

"In my head I'm telling myself I have got what it takes to mix with the best but I still have to prove myself.

"In the last few competitions I think I've proved, not just to myself, but to everyone else that I have."