An Interview with Louis Smith
Louis Smith Interview
Body & Soul Music
Why Olympian Louis Smith isn’t resting on his laurels when it comes to a career in the spotlight…
Louis Smith’s life is a series of firsts – he’s the first Briton to win a medal in individual gymnastics in the Olympics since 1908, after scooping bronze in Beijing. He’s also the first black Briton to win a medal in Olympic gymnastics, and only the second black man after American Jay Nair who achieved the feat in 1996, in Atlanta. In addition, Smith is the first Olympic gymnast to have stood up in front of Simon Cowell and auditioned for The X Factor in 2009. Beat that!
“That was a pretty amazing experience,” he says, enthusiastically. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I love singing and I just thought it would be best to do at that time before the training got too hectic. “I was up in front of Simon, Cheryl and Dannii. Simon asked me what I do and I told him I was a gymnast. And Cheryl goes: ‘I can see where you get your arms from’.
“A dream come true”
“He asked why I was doing this and I wanted to say that it was just a bit of fun and I wanted to see what it was like. But you can’t say that on there because the TV people like a story. So I had to say that it was my dream and so on. Singing is always good fun, and is something I’ve done longer than sport, to be honest. Thankfully mine wasn’t one of those car crash auditions. And for me it was more just about having a good time. I got through but got cut at the next round and, honestly, it’s not like I would have pursued it. Well I don’t think I would. I guess we’ll never know!”
Currently deep in training with only weeks to go to the opening ceremony, the 23-year-old pommel horse specialist is looking to trade up on his bronze medal success in the 2008 Games. Gold, it seems, is the only option. “It was a pretty awesome feeling but I’m going for gold this year. I can’t get anything less and I don’t want silver now. Silver is just a shinier bronze – gold is the only option.
To win gold would be unbelievable. I don’t like to think too much about it because that heaps the pressure on, but to know that you have reached a pinnacle, that you are the best in the world at what you are doing – it would just be a dream come true.”
“I wake up in agony”
Having only just recovered from a broken leg suffered last year, Smith maintains the injury hasn’t slowed him down, calling it par for the course.
“I’ve had fractured wrists, fractured ankles, broken fingers, broken ankles, broken toes. I’ve been injured a lot. Breaking my finger recently is probably the most severe thing to have happened, but it’s definitely not the most painful. My ankle was the worst. I’m always in pain. Most mornings I wake up in agony. I don’t want to get out of bed because my body is so sore, but it’s a soreness I’m used to. Every gymnast is like that; it’s just the way it is.”
Louis admits he’s concerned for his physical wellbeing in later life, considering the pressure gymnastics has put on his body. “You think to yourself ‘I really hope this is all worth it’ because, honestly, I really think I’m going to be in a wheelchair when I’m older; or at very least I’ll have a walking stick. The physio told me I’ve got the back of a 40-year-old. I wouldn’t say I’m paranoid but you do think about it.”
“Maybe have my own chat show”
But through the injuries, there’s a huge sense of pride behind Smith’s medal win – only the second black person to do so in Olympic gymnastics. “That is an achievement in itself. It’s nice to come and break that barrier in this country, and being a role model is amazing. And it’s not just about sport; it’s also to do with showing people in any walk of life that if you have a dream and are willing to work hard, you can achieve something very special.”
Should he be physically able, the plan post-pommel horse is to embark on a career in front of the cameras “I’d love to get into a bit of presenting after my sporting career,” Louis enthuses. “I love doing interviews and meeting people; it’s something I feel pretty relaxed and chilled out doing. I’d be quite happy to get into that – maybe have my own chat show or something. I could invite Simon Cowell on and give him a grilling!”
Louis Smith is fuelled by Lucozade helping him go Faster. Stronger. For Longer. Check out Louis in action at www.youtube/lucozade