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Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 11:58 UK

Louis Smith Q&A

Louis Smith and Daniel Keatings
Smith and Keatings will be team-mates and pommel horse rivals in Beijing

By Andrew McKenzie

British teenagers Louis Smith and Daniel Keatings are team-mates at the Huntingdon gymnastics club in Cambridgeshire.

They are also carrying the hopes of the British men's gymnastics team in Beijing.

Since their arrival in the Chinese capital on Monday, the pair have been training, playing on the free video arcades at the Olympic Village and catching up on sleep.

But 19-year-old Smith, who is considered an outside shot for a medal on the pommel horse, managed to find some time out to answer some questions about his ambitions for Beijing, his rivalry with Keatings and his unusually long arms.

Q. What were your first impressions of Beijing?

I've been here just one day but am amazed at the incredible sports facilities and the Olympic Village. It's very hot and humid and I'm waiting to see some sun!

There are loads of modern buildings mixed in with the older parts of the city and the Olympic lanes are great because traffic is crazy.

Q. Which sports person at the Olympics would you most like to meet and why?

I'd like to meet some of the Jamaican runners in the Olympic Village as well as the gymnastic greats like Alexei Nemov.

Q. What are your aims for the 2008 Games and what would you consider to be a good result?

My aims for Beijing are to do my best, to gain experience for 2012 and to make all my efforts over the last 10 years worthwhile.

Andrew M - BBC Sport
I don't think about a result as that depends on what my competitors will do. A good result for me is to do a clean pommel routine and compete well all around - then we'll see what happens.

I felt honoured and relieved to be officially named in the British team. It's been an ambition for all my life and I've worked hard to get this far.

Q. Having won bronze in the World Championships, what would you say are the chances of you winning an Olympic medal?

Winning bronze in the Worlds taught me that anything is possible, but I don't think about medals. I focus on my clean performance and then let the judges and my competitors sort the rest out.

Q. Who do you consider to be your biggest rivals?

My biggest rival is the pommel horse!

Q. What would you say are the necessary requirements to be good at the pommel horse?

I think the ability to work hard is an important requirement. All my gymnastic life I have performed millions of circles over many training sessions and I know that all that work as a junior has helped me to stay on as a senior. My long arms are a good asset too!

Q. At what age did you take up gymnastics and what got your into the sport?

I started gymnastics at about five years old. My older brother, Leon, was already going and I just tagged along and began to enjoy it.

Q. At what age did you start to believe you could compete at the top?

From a very young age I wanted to be the best and enjoyed working hard in the gym. When I won the Junior European pommel horse title in 2004 I realised that I could do well in this sport and have worked hard for my goals, especially over the last five years.

Q. What would you say are your biggest strengths and your major weaknesses?

I think my strengths are that I tend to be relaxed and positive in training and competition, and really enjoy doing my best in front of a big crowd.

My size and long levers are good for pommel horse but I have to work hard to be able to do well on the other apparatus.

But I sometimes struggle to get up in the morning!

Q. Your club Huntingdon have four gymnasts at Beijing. Why do you think they have managed so much success?

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Huntingdon is a great club to be a part of. I think we are successful because it's a great team, a great training atmosphere, and a real tradition of producing high level gymnasts that juniors can all look up to.

Q. How would you describe your relationship and rivalry with team-mate Daniel Keatings?

Me and Dan are great friends. We're sharing a room together and generally hanging out in the Village. We tend to help each other through training and competitions and his good work keeps me motivated to do well.

We'll be supporting each other all the way, but if we both make a final, he'd better be ready!

The men's gymnastics starts on 9 August with the qualifying events. Both Smith and Keatings will compete in all six events, but the pommel horse is considered their best hope of medals. The pommel horse final takes place on 17 August.

see also
Team GB for Beijing
21 Jul 08 |  Team GB
Smith aims for pommel horse glory
22 Jul 08 |  Gymnastics
First GB athletes arrive in China
28 Jul 08 |  Olympics
Beijing's Olympic village opens
27 Jul 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Tweddle hampered by rib problem
29 Jul 08 |  Gymnastics
Huntingdon's King set for Beijing
30 Jun 08 |  Gymnastics
Club-mates named in Olympic team
13 Jun 08 |  Gymnastics
Gymnastics photo guide
01 Mar 06 |  Photo Galleries
GB gymnasts qualify for Olympics
02 Sep 07 |  Gymnastics
Get involved in gymnastics
27 Jun 08 |  Gymnastics

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