Smith debates gamble

  • Last Updated: August 4 2012, 12:35 BST

British gymnast Louis Smith is still deciding whether to play Russian roulette in tomorrow's pommel horse final.

Louis Smith: prepared to gamble in his bid for pommel horse gold

The flamboyant gymnast is set to do battle with arch-rival, double world champion Krisztian Berki, in the North Greenwich Arena as he bids to claim Britain's first-ever Olympics gymnastics gold.

Smith will be joined in the final by team-mate Max Whitlock, but it is the 23-year-old Peterborough-born gymnast who is hot favourite to produce another stunning performance and upgrade the bronze medal he won in Beijing four years ago.

Smith is set to perform one of the most difficult routines on the pommel horse which includes a triple Russian - a technically demanding triple rotation - but he also has slightly less high-scoring double and single Russians in his locker if he decides to play it safe.

But, after the success of Monday night when the British men's five won their first-ever Olympic team medal when they claimed bronze, Smith admits the weight of expectation has been lifted and he might go for broke.

"Everyone feels a little bit more flamboyant," Smith said. "Everyone can go out there and push it a bit more. I wouldn't say we'd take more risks. They will be doing the same routines. But they will definitely feel a bit more confident.

"The fact that we've got a medal makes the rest of our competition more enjoyable.

"If I didn't perform or something happens in my pommel final then I will still come away from this Olympic Games with a medal around my neck, so it really takes the stress off.

"I can really go out there and try and perform and see what I can do. If it doesn't happen, I've got a medal."

Smith was the highest qualifier for the pommel horse final and broke down in tears when he saw his 15.800 score flash up.

He then went one better in the team final, looking relaxed as he powered his way to a 15.966 score, eclipsing Berki's 15.033 mark in qualification.

And Smith approaches the final knowing he has successfully competed his most difficult routine at this year's British championships where he scored a massive 16.375 points - his personal best and a score that would have been good enough to win gold four years ago.

"If my main rival, Krisztian Berki, goes through his routine and puts in a high score it gives me the opportunity to think 'OK, maybe I need to try my harder routine'. My easy routine is still the hardest in the world," Smith said.

"That's the key difficulty stage. It's just ridiculous. For me it's probably got a 30 per cent record of going clean, including training. So it's not the easiest skill to do, let alone at an Olympic Games final. But, you know, great risk can bring great reward."