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Purvis back in swing on 'home' soil

LOUIS SMITH may be lighting up television screens on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, but for his Great Britain team-mate Daniel Purvis, the focus is firmly on knuckling back down to the serious business of gymnastics.

Olympic bronze winner Daniel Purvis competes in Glasgow today. Picture: Reuters
Olympic bronze winner Daniel Purvis competes in Glasgow today. Picture: Reuters

Already the Scot has gone some way towards blowing away the final remnants of any Olympic hangover. He took silver at the World Cup in Stuttgart last weekend, losing out on gold to Germany's Marcel Nguyen by the narrowest of margins.

Today, the 22-year-old will be back in action and eager to turn the tables on Nguyen, the Olympic silver medallist, as the next round of the World Cup series arrives at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

The sell-out event is the sport's first major international competition on British soil since London 2012, and has attracted many of the top-ranked all-around gymnasts in the world.

Purvis, who won team bronze at the Olympics, is relishing the prospect of competing in front of a "home" crowd. Although he was born in Liverpool and brought up on Merseyside, his mother Denise hails from Dundee and Purvis has represented Scotland at the Northern European Championships. He hopes to do so again at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"I did the World Cup in Glasgow last year and the atmosphere was amazing, so I'm looking forward to getting back out there again," Purves said. "The fact it's sold out too . . . that's unheard of. It's exciting and shows how much the profile of the sport has grown in the UK. The Olympic Games really helped to put gymnastics on the map. It will be great having that huge home support."

Purvis was an 11th-hour inclusion in the 2012-13 World Cup series after KoheI Uchimura, the Olympic all-around champion from Japan, withdrew from World Cup, citing injuries to his right shoulder and ankle.

Despite the absence of Uchimura and a somewhat depleted post-Olympic field, Purvis will still face formidable competition from Nguyen and Danell Leyva, the Olympic all-around bronze medallist from the USA.

Kristian Thomas, another member of Britain's Olympic bronze-winning team and who was seventh in Stuttgart, will also be in action today.

"I was already back in the gym and when I got the call [asking him to compete] it was the extra motivation I needed," Purvis said. "I'm finally feeling back to pretty good shape. I had six weeks off after the Olympics and when I first came back I found it mentally tiring. It's hard work, but I do this because I enjoy it. We're at the start of a new Olympic cycle and the aim is to compete for another four years."

Four months on, he's had time to reflect on the emotional rollercoaster during which the British men's team briefly had their hands on Olympic silver only to be demoted to bronze after Japan successfully appealed the low score Uchimura had received on the pommel horse. "It seems ages ago now," Purvis muses. "Looking back, I do think we were unfairly judged. I feel sorry for the Ukrainians too because they missed out on a medal after dropping down to fourth. That must have been horrible.

"If the situation had been reversed, though, I don't think the appeal would have been successful. They [Japan] definitely had more leverage with a three-time world champion in the team. It's quite controversial. At the end of the day, though, we were aiming for a top-five finish so to get bronze was beyond our expectations."

Afterwards, Purvis found himself catapulted from relative obscurity to being congratulated by strangers in the street, while a hefty pile of invitations dropped through his letter box.

"It was pretty crazy; there were lots of parties. It was cool," he said. "I was recognised a lot, which was a bit mad. It's great to see more people interested in gymnastics. My home gym club, Southport YMCA, have had their waiting list double."

Purvis's own sights are now set firmly on Glasgow in 20 months' time. "I'm looking forward to the Commonwealth Games," he said. "Hopefully we should have a strong team in Scotland, with Daniel Keatings competing as well. I've heard Adam Cox is making a comeback too; that's a bit of a shock but exciting.

"A lot of great juniors are starting to come through as well. There is definitely a depth of talent there to draw on. After that, it's only two years to Rio. It's just a case of seeing how everything goes."

In today's women's competition, Rebecca Tunney, the British senior champion, and Niamh Rippin, the 2010 European silver medallist, take on a field that includes the former world and European champion Vanessa Ferrari, of Italy, and the rising American star Elizabeth Price.

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