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Dangerous Smith looms for Scots

The Scottish duo Dan Purvis and Daniel Keatings have a renewed threat in their bid for gold at the Commonwealth Games this year following the announcement by Louis Smith, the three-time Olympic medallist, that he intends to compete for England.

Olympic bronze medallists Louis Smith and Dan Purvis
Olympic bronze medallists Louis Smith and Dan Purvis

Smith, who won team bronze for Great Britain alongside Purvis at London 2012, seemed to have finished with the sport when he chose to pursue other ventures. He went on to win television's Strictly Come Dancing and also claimed £50,000 on the game show The Cube. However, he now insists that the lure of Glasgow is too much and that he is ready to return to competition.

He will be a particular threat to Keatings on the pommel horse. The Scot won the European title in Smith's absence last year but the Englishman won silver in the event at London 2012 after taking bronze in Beijing four years earlier.

"I always said that everything that I was working on was geared towards 2012 and, when I achieved what I did at the London Olympics, within myself I believed that I had taken part in my last competition in the sport," Smith said.

"However, recently my feelings have started to change. I loved commentating at the World Champion­ships in October but there was a large part of me that felt I should be competing. I know what I'm still capable of when I'm in peak condition. I believe I can very much compete among the best in the world and challenge for medals."

But he admits that qualifying for Glasgow is not as straightforward as many may assume. "Qualifying for Team England will be no easy feat," he stressed. "People may assume that my achievements to date will mean a place in the team but that couldn't be further from the case.

"The strength in depth in this country is at a level that it's never been before with a large number of hugely talented gymnasts all competing for places. I will have to earn my place on the team which is not going to be easy and even if I achieve the necessary standards, it will still come down to the selectors.

"If I don't make the team, then I can be proud that I have been a part of the success that has driven on these young gymnasts to reach higher standards and take the sport forward and I'll look forward to following and supporting them all at the Games. In any case, I look forward to getting back in the gym and keeping my gymnastic fitness at a level I have become used to over the years."

He also revealed that, if he makes Glasgow this summer, it would definitely be his last major competition. "I loved competing at the Commonwealth Games in 2006," he said. "It's such a friendly competition and one I'd be so eager to be a part of again. As far as I am concerned, should I  qualify, this will be my last hurrah. The 2012 Olympics were everything to me and I believe that without the successes that I had there, my life could have taken a very different path over the last year and a half.

"So I can go to the Commonwealth Games knowing that whatever happens, I will have achieved everything I ever dreamt of in gymnastics. But I am an athlete and as has always been the case, I will be there in the pursuit of success. I'm not done with gymnastics yet. I have unfinished business. Should I qualify, the opportunity to compete on home turf again is one that I will relish."

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