Smith calls time on pioneering career
Gymnastics Artistic

Smith calls time on pioneering career

08 November 2018 / 10:19
Louis Smith's place in British Olympic history will always be secure and now the four-time medallist has announced his retirement from gymnastics aged 29.

Smith became the first British man in 80 years to win an Olympic gymnastics medal at Beijing 2008 and competed at three Games in total – winning two silvers and two bronzes.

That included a memorable pommel horse silver, as his teammate Max Whitlock joined him on the podium after coming third, as well team bronze at London 2012 and he was appointed MBE for his services to gymnastics following his home Games.

The Peterborough native also claimed three World Championship silvers, two European golds and four Commonwealth Games medals, including pommel horse gold at Melbourne 2006.

And Smith believes that now is the right time to call time on a career that has given him more than he could’ve ever imagined.

“I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved in the sport and hope that my achievements have left a legacy that will continue to inspire gymnasts of the future,” he said.

“From a young age it became my dream to compete at an Olympic Games and represent Great Britain, so to have had the opportunity to do that on three separate occasions, and bring home four Olympic medals in the process, is something I will forever cherish and for which I am eternally grateful.

“Gym has given me everything - it gave me the tools necessary to channel my ADHD throughout my childhood, and as I grew up through the sport, I very quickly found a purpose in life, and it has made me the person I am today.”

Smith had intended to return to training in a bid to qualify for Tokyo 2020 but decided against competing in the upcoming World Cup Series due to a change in Olympic qualification criteria.

He instead expressed his intention to pursue other career opportunities, including appearing in the West End in musical Rip It Up next February.

And despite closing the book on what was a truly ground-breaking career, Smith stressed that the decision was far from easy, and that his involvement with the sport certainly isn’t over.

“In addition to the continued development of my gymnastic academies, I have every intention of giving back as much as I can to a sport that gave me so much,” he continued.

“Recently, with the changes in the qualification criteria, in addition to exciting opportunities that I’ve been presented with as I look to the next stage of my career beyond gymnastics, I had to make the very difficult decision to finally hang up my leotard.

“In doing so, my eternal thanks has to go to my coach Paul Hall, who has been there with me through it all and without whom I would never have reached the heights I did in the sport.

“To my teammates over the years who have continued to motivate and inspire me to be the best gymnast I can be.

“To the gymnastics fans across the country for their unending support, and of course to my mum, for all the support and unconditional love that she has shown and continues to show me, and without whom my dreams would never have been realised.

“I’m so excited for what the future holds and this next stage in my life, and can only hope that it brings me as much joy as gymnastics has to this point.”

Sportsbeat 2018