Smith: Stars have to be role models

17 December 2012 / 17:32

Louis Smith insisted Britain's Olympic gymnasts must do their part in helping the sport grow as he and fellow star Beth Tweddle reflected on a dream 2012.

Smith became one of the iconic figures of London 2012, claiming silver in the men's pommel horse shortly after becoming part of the first British men's team to win a medal at the Games in 100 years.

British Gymnastics immediately reported a significant rise in the number of people who had taken an interest in the sport following the team bronze medal, and the organisation are keen to maintain the momentum through 2013 and beyond.

And Smith, who has gained further celebrity by appearing in Strictly Come Dancing, thinks stars such as himself and Tweddle must play a central role in making sure that happens.

"It's very important for people like me and the rest of the team to raise awareness and be role models," Smith said. "We have never really had that in gymnastics before.

"Now we have been given this fantastic opportunity with the Olympics to showcase the sport, and bring it to everyone's attention, so now it's up to us to keep it going."

Sunday night's Sports Personality of the Year became a glowing tribute to the stars of 2012 and 23-year-old Smith, speaking on the red carpet before the awards ceremony, was glad to have been part of such a successful 12 months for Team GB.

"It's been a massive year for British sport," he said. "We all knew it was going to be a special year. But I don't think we knew how big a year it would be."

Tweddle, who won her first Olympic medal this summer, a bronze in the uneven bars, agreed with her team-mate's assessment of 2012.

"It's been amazing," the 27-year-old said. "At the start of the year every athlete was feeling the pressure. In a way you wanted it to be over and luckily I came away with my Olympic dream and it was a great way to finish the year."