A YEAR on from retirement and Dan Purvis jokes that he’s a little bit rusty. The former Olympic and Commonwealth medallist has pulled on the leotard once more to lend his support to British and Scottish Gymnastics’ #PresentforPounds initiative running throughout today.

Purvis is calling on the sporting community and beyond to post a video or photo online of their best “present” – the move a gymnast performs at the start or end of every routine – make a donation to NHS Charities Together, and then nominate five friends to do the same. British Gymnastics will then match donations up to a maximum of £50,000.

Purvis, who represented Scotland at the Glasgow and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, retired from competitive gymnastics 15 months ago and admitted he had to quickly reacquaint himself with the sort of moves that became second nature to him during a stellar career.

“It’s been a while since I presented,” he laughed. “I had to warm up so I didn’t get a cramp putting my one arm up! But I was really happy to get involved.

“I’ve actually been feeling a little bit guilty as I can’t work at the moment and you see on the news key workers and NHS staff working so hard.

“My old coach Jeff Brookes’ wife is working in a hospital in Liverpool and he tells me stories of what they’ve been going through. So to be able to support a campaign like this and get involved is fantastic.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone posting their videos and pictures of them presenting and making donations to the NHS. Social media has been great for helping kids through this difficult time so hopefully they’ll see some of their role models presenting then have a go themselves.”

Had he chosen not to retire last year, Purvis could well have entered 2020 with his sights set on reaching a second Olympics after winning team bronze in London in 2012.

With the Tokyo Games now postponed until next summer, the 29 year-old has sympathy for his former colleagues trying to adjust to that uncertainty.

“I really feel for them as a lot of them will have done almost of their training ahead of the Olympics,” he added.

“To be cancelled like that will be a heart-breaker for them. For those who were maybe carrying an injury it’s at least a chance to rest and then build up again for next summer.”

Lockdown life has impacted on Purvis, too. He now runs a gym just outside Liverpool, teaching gymnastics to children between the ages of five and 11. It remains closed for the time being, awaiting news from the government and British Gymnastics as to when it can re-open.

“We’re just waiting to hear when it will be safe to go back,” he added. “It would be good to start up again after the summer if the schools go back but it’s still a bit uncertain.

“I’m missing the coaching and the interaction with the gymnasts and the other coaches. But we’ve been having online chats with them and the parents so we’re staying in touch.

“Apart from that I live on my own so I’ve just been trying to stay in a routine every day which helps. And I’ve been watching lots of Netflix – I binge-watched all the old episodes of American Office and Friends. The classics!”

Being inducted into the British Gymnastics Hall of Fame earlier this year helped formally bring down the curtain on Purvis’ competitive career.

Qualifying for Scotland through his Dundee-born mum, he insists wearing the dark blue always meant as much to him as anyone born and bred in this country.

“The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and on Gold Coast were two of my favourite competitions,” he added.

“I was team captain in Glasgow and the crowd and the atmosphere were just incredible. And in Australia I was the old man of the team and the others were looking after me! It was a different vibe but to go there and get another team medal I know meant a lot to everyone.

“It always meant a lot to me competing for Scotland. I had grown up going to visit my family in Dundee two or three times a year so it felt a natural move for me. And every time I competed for Scotland it was special. I’ll always remember those moments with a lot of pride.”

- To donate to #PresentforPounds visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/britishgymnasticsnhs