‘I’m proud to rep­re­sent Peter­bor­ough’ – Louis Smith

Re­ceiv­ing the Free­dom of Peter­bor­ough would be “awe­some” ac­cord­ing to Olympic sil­ver medal win­ning gym­nast

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

IN­TER­VIEW

Rep­re­sent­ing Peter­bor­ough at the Olympics was an ab­so­lute plea­sure, ac­cord­ing to sil­ver medal win­ning gym­nast Louis Smith, who also said it would be “awe­some” to re­ceive the free­dom of the city.

Louis, who grew up in Eye but now lives in Help­ston, touched down at Heathrow on Tues­day last week along­side other mem­bers of Team GB’s record-break­ing medal win­ners.

Af­ter a month spent in Rio along­side his fel­low com­peti­tors, Louis was un­aware of the calls from Mayor of Peter­bor­ough, Coun­cil­lor David San­ders, for him to be made a Free­man of the city.

But in­formed of the news when speak­ing to the Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph last week, he­said: “That’s awe­some, I would gladly ac­cept it.

“Peter­bor­ough, you guys have been fan­tas­tic. It’s been an ab­so­lute plea­sure to say I’ m from here and to rep­re­sent Peter­bor­ough in and out of the gym.

“I’m com­mit­ted to Peter- bor­ough. I think it’s a fan­tas­tic place, es­pe­cially in Help­ston.”

Team GB was given a big wel­come af­ter re­turn­ing from Brazil last week, but there was a fur­ther sur­prise for Louis when he went home and saw a ban­ner read­ing “Con­grat­u­la­tions Louis, Help­ston is proud of you!” wait­ing for him.

Louis said: “I came home and there’s all these flags and ban­ner son my house. It’s so nice. You do not get a feel for that when you’re in Rio.

“It’s only when you come home that you re­alise the ef­fect Team GB has.

‘I was quite sur­prised to see the ban­ner, but it wasa nice sur­prise.’

“I was quite sur­prised to see the ban­ner, but it was a nice sur­prise.

“It’s so nice to be back. I loved it out there in Rio and it was bet­ter than I ex­pected it to be, but I’ve been away for four, five weeks and it’s nice to come home and switch off.”

Reflecting on his time in Rio, Louis said his high­light was be­ing part of an in­cred­i­bly suc­cess­ful gym­nas­tics team which brought back seven medals.

But he ad­mit­ted t hat watch­ing the pom­mel horse fi­nal was not easy for his mum Elaine Petch.

“Mum was watch­ing it round a friend’s house. She needed moral sup­port watch­ing me do my thing. I think they are all very proud.”

There was some con­tro­versy at the Games when Louis was ac­cused of not con­grat­u­lat­ing Team GB col­league Max Whitlock af - ter he took gold ahead of him in the pom­mel horse fi­nal. Re­spond­ing to the ac­cu­sa­tions, a de­fi­ant Louis said: “It’s all very silly to be hon­est. It should not hap­pen to me, hav­ing to de­fend my­self on the night of me win­ning an Olympic sil­ver.

“Me, Max and Max’s coach

‘I’m not like that, I was­not brought up like that, it’s not how I tick.’

know what hap­pened. The cam­eras did not catch me go­ing over to con­grat­u­late him. “I’m not like that, I was not brought up like that, it’s not how I tick. It’s point­less car­ry­ing on talk­ing about it.”

De­spite the online furore, the four-time Olympic medal­list will hold fond mem­o­ries of an­other suc­cess­ful Games.

“I’m very happy, very relieved and very proud of what I have done, for how long I’ve been in the sport and what I’ve achieved in the Olympics,” added Louis.

“I was slightly dis­ap­pointed at the time that I was not go­ing to get gold, but five-10 min­utes passed and the over­whelm­ing feel­ing was pride.”

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