Expert Blog

Akabusi: Louis Smith comes of age

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Stand up Louis Smith. I hope when he woke up this morning and looked in the mirror, he felt a sense of great pride and personal satisfaction at what he achieved yesterday evening.

What he has done for the sport of gymnastics is nothing short of incredible. When he climbed onto the pommel horse in Beijing four years ago, he became the first British man to win a medal in gymnastics in a hundred years. Even more astounding, he was the first Briton to win a medal in gymnastics since the women's team won bronze 80 years ago in 1928.

Fast forward four years and look at that performance from Louis, Sam Oldham, Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock and Daniel Purvis.  Smith, at the age of just 23, has turned himself from the sport's poster boy into a genuine leader and has inspired all those around him to step up and meet his level. That team never expected to be in the position they were in last night but they believed in themselves and their ability, while the home crowd support, including the Royal Princes, almost lifted the roof off the arena.

The boys got their rewards and fully deserved to be bronze medallists. I fully expect gym clubs up and down the country to be taking calls this morning from parents hoping to sign their boys and girls up for classes, which is exactly what the Olympics are all about.

Over at the Aquatics Centre, Michael Phelps is causing real waves and not for reasons we were all expecting when the greatest swimmer of all time arrived in London for the Olympics. Remember, this is the man who has won 14 Olympic gold medals, he is a legend in his own lifetime. In my opinion, I believe that we are witnessing the dismantling of an Olympic giant. The young guns are upping their game, they don't fear him anymore and they're eager to tear off a piece of this iconic figure in order to be that rarest of breeds, a swimmer who can say 'I beat the legend at the Olympics'.

He may yet win a gold medal but I believe it will be a one-off event and he will have to use all of his cunning, guile and give it his all. Perhaps it will be tonight in the 200m butterfly, which is his strongest event, but trust me, this is not the swimming legend we once knew.

Finally, a word from me on the empty seats. I can fully understand the British public being disappointed and frustrated. The organisers are doing their best to rectify the problem but releasing tickets on the day is not much help to people living in Huddersfield or anywhere else in Britain. However, I do believe that as the finals progress and Olympians edge closer to the medal events, the seats will fill and London 2012 will be remembered for all of the right reasons.

Three-time Olympic medallist Kriss Akabusi will be an expert consultant for Eurosport-Yahoo! during the London 2012 Games.

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