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COACH: SMITH COULD MAKE RIO GAMES; GYMNASTICS.

LOUIS Smith is a "competitive animal" and should not be ruled out of the Rio Olympics despite taking a break from the sport, according to coach Paul Hall.

Smith, who claimed pommel-horse silver and team bronze at London 2012, has also tasted success on BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing and only returned to his gym in Huntingdon last week.

However, the 23-year-old was not resuming a full-time training regime in a bid to get back into competitive shape and according to Hall, it could be some time before we see the Olympian back at the top of his game.

He said: "Louis popped in and had two swings around on the pommel.

"At the moment he is just doing it for his general fitness and is not preparing for competition yet.

"He intends to come back and get to a level where he can swing on the pommel horse again.

"Still, if he wants to, he has to find the time to come back to the gym and train full time.

"If he takes six months and trains properly and efficiently he could get back to his Olympic silver medal-winning level."

Smith won silver medal on his specialist piece of apparatus - the pommel horse - at the London Games after he received the same score as Hungary's Krisztian Berki.

Berki, however, was awarded gold due to his higher execution score. An Olympic gold medal is something which has eluded Smith, with his silver on the apparatus adding to the surprise bronze he won at Beijing in 2008.

However, while Rio is still three and a half years away, Hall thinks Smith could make a comeback to try and complete his medal collection.

He added: "It's very hard to improve on the experience of London, with the experience of the home crowd and he ended up with silver after competing in the best form of his life. To do that again is difficult.

"However, he is a competitive animal and he may want to do it again in Rio.

"I don't think we will see him in competitive action this year."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 5, 2013
Words:357
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