Former GB gymnast backs Smith to deliver on 2012 stage
GB gymnast Louis Smith might have missed out on the world title he so craved earlier this month but two-time Commonwealth champion Craig Heap believes this will only make his Olympic hunger that much stronger.
The 22-year-old headed to Tokyo for the World Championships, looking to build on his pommel horse silver medal from last year's event in Rotterdam.
However Smith couldn't climb the final podium step, in the end having to settle for bronze, the same result he achieved at the 2007 competition in Stuttgart.
And Smith will be hoping lightning doesn't strike twice in eight months time as he heads to London to turn his 2008 Olympic bronze medal into gold.
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But Heap, Britain's only male gymnast at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, insists his failure to improve his world standing could be a blessing in disguise when he takes to the capital next year.
"I know people were expecting Louis to do better than he did in Tokyo but a bronze medal at the World Championships is still a great result," said Heap, who captained England's men's team to gold at the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games.
"That is just a testament to how good he is now that people expect him to win gold on the pommel horse because he is that good at it.
"But I actually think that the fact that he didn't win the gold at the World Championships could prove to be important for the Olympics because it keeps him hungry.
"The last thing you want to do is to let complacency set in a year before an Olympic Games and Louis will now be hungrier than ever to make sure he gets it right at London.
"We saw the same thing happen with Jess Ennis at the World Athletic Championships where she was expected to win gold but ended up with silver and I am sure she, and Louis, will come good when it matters next year."
Smith helped the men's team finish tenth in qualifying, just shy of a top-eight place needed to secure a London 2012 slot.
And while Smith might grab the headlines, Heap insists teammate Dan Keatings' ability on the pommel horse shouldn't be forgotten.
"Daniel has already picked up silver in the all-around final at the World Championships in 2009 so he has great potential," he added.
"And he is an awesome pommel worker as well as Louis and if he gets it right on the day then he is as good as Louis in my opinion.
"The great thing is we have a couple of guys for the all around now for London and Daniel is certainly one of the guys at the front of the queue."
Craig Heap was speaking at the Newcastle leg of the ‘nearest & dearest' roadshow in partnership with P&G - supporting family and friends of all Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes in the lead up to London 2012. Visit Former GB gymnast backs Smith to deliver on 2012 stage
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