Tag Archives: bronze

London Olympics 2012: Louis Smith urges Brits to keep their nerve

Smith urges Brit pack to hold nerve as young gymnasts bid for team place at London 2012

The sign in Louis Smith’s sitting room reads ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. It is an adage he intends to follow, but one he fears his British gymnastics team-mates may not.

Today is the team’s Olympic D-Day at the O2 Arena in Greenwich. Finish in the top four of the eight competing nations and they will take their place at London 2012. Fail to do so and one individual in one discipline will go it alone.

Qualification should be a formality because the British line-up is the strongest we have had. Three stars — Smith, Daniel Keatings and Daniel Purvis — are augmented by youthful talent.

Power balance: Louis Smith says his team-mates must show mental strength

Power balance: Louis Smith says his team-mates must show mental strength

But Smith, the Olympic bronze medallist on the pommel horse four years ago, has doubts.

‘We are a young nation in the sport and, although we are doing well, nobody knows what it is like to have expectation, which is why we completely blew out at the World Championships,’ he says of four of the team falling during their high-bars routine and missing out on Olympic qualification back in November.

‘Nobody has been in a position where success is expected. When we failed at the World Championships everybody was like, “Oh my God. I can’t believe this has happened”. The guys were like, “I don’t know what happened. I just slipped off”.

Looking forward: Smith is aiming to improve on his bronze medal of four years ago

Looking forward: Smith is aiming to improve on his bronze medal of four years ago

‘But I was thinking that it was such a strong possibility that this could happen. I was trying to say to them that it was nerves. If you’re ready for a competition and you make uncharacteristic mistakes, more than once, it is nerves. I don’t think they will ever agree with me.’

So can they totally reverse their mistaken mindsets today or — if they do join the British women’s team who have already qualified — at the Olympics this summer

‘I don’t know,’ says Smith, a member of Sportsmail’s Magnificent Seven. ‘It took me two or three years to find a knack of dealing with pressure. You would struggle to do it in six months.

‘The most they can do is to be confident. I have told them to treat it like a training session, to be relaxed, have fun. I like to chill out at the competition. I listen to reggae music. Five minutes before I compete I put a T-shirt over my head and get in the zone.

‘I tell myself, “Look, I’ve done this hundreds of times. Just go up and do it. It’s not a stressful competition”. It is, though. I am just tricking myself.

‘When you are down on the floor and about to compete it is 100 per cent psychological.’

Handling the pressure: Smith relaxes in the gym

Handling the pressure: Smith relaxes in the gym


Tom Daley, diver

Gemma Howell, judoka

Louise Watkin, Paralympic swimmer

Emily Pidgeon, athlete

Shanaze Reade, cyclist

Giles Scott, Finn sailor

Louis Smith, gymnast

Nobody can say that Smith does not
know what he is talking about in this sport that operates on the edge of
its nerves every finely-balanced second. His success in Beijing
represented the first individual Olympic medal by a British male gymnast
since 1908.

He has a Commonwealth title and a clutch of European and world medals to his name.

Smith is speaking in his rented flat
in Peterborough, a bolthole situated close enough to the chicken and
rice on offer at his mum’s house. His career to date has allowed him to
buy a plot of land in the nearby village of Helpston for 100,000. He is
developing it into a three-bedroom house.

National Lottery Magnificent 7 logo

Win gold in London and Smith will
retire at 22 to give his occupational injuries a break and to pursue
business interests — perhaps an adult version of Center Parcs, a
shirtless catering service or the media.

First, he must get to the Olympics.
Yes, Smith might be handed the one individual place in any case, but the
surest route presents itself in competition today.

The message to
the team of Keatings, Purvis, Ruslan Panteleymonov, Kristian Thomas and
Max Whitlock is simple: Keep Calm and Carry On.

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London 2012 Olympics: Alex Danson eyes Hockey glory

GB's golden girl of hockey Danson is out to make her Olympic dream come true

She's a self-confessed S Club 7 super fan and determined to reach for the stars this summer.

Meet Alex Danson: Britain's great hockey hope going into this year's London Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old is eager to lead Team GB to glory in Stratford in what would be a the ultimate realisation of her wildest childhood dream.

All in: Team GB Hockey star Alex Danson is intent on making the most of 2012

All in: Team GB Hockey star Alex Danson is intent on making the most of 2012

It all began for Danson at the tender
age of seven. After watching a match with her parents, she begged her
mum Trisha to buy her a hockey stick.

After hours upon end of playing in her back garden with it, she's not put a stick down since.

At 16 she made her international debut, starring against Germany in 2001.
Since then she's racked up an incredible 152-caps combined for Britain
and England, celebrating a Commonwealth bronze medal in Melbourne almost
six years ago and three bronze honours at the European Championships.

laura Williamson 2012 blog

But for Danson, all of that will be irrelevant when the time comes to showcase her skills on grandest stage of them all.

She's wants to go all the way in front of her home fans and most of all, her family… especially Mum.

'My Mum got me into hockey. My Mum's my hero,' she said.

'I remember exactly where I was when it was announced we'd be hosting the Olympics.

'I was at the airport with the Under-21 team and our manager came bouncing up saying, “We've just got the Olympics in London!”

'To be honest at that age, I never
even thought that I'd have a chance of playing in it. All I remember
thinking was, “Wow, I want to get tickets!”

'To think that I might be there this year is just surreal.

'If I do make it in the team I'd be so excited to see my family and friends there, particularly my parents.

Game on: Danson is looking forward to the forthcoming Champions' Trophy

Game on: Danson is looking forward to the forthcoming Champions' Trophy

'You can't succeed in any top level sport with great support and I've been very lucky to always have that from them.'

Although she is quick to down play her chances of selection, Danson's place is unlikely to be in any doubt come July.

Her form of late has been so
impressive that she was voted, along with Reading team-mate Helen Richardson
in the International Hockey Federation's 2011 World All Stars team.

Indeed, it was recognition for the
hard work she has put in on the field and away from it going into what
she admits is the biggest of year her life.

Christmas was cancelled and replaced
with a training session at Bisham Abbey, just days after she'd returned
with the squad after whitewashing the USA 5-0 in a five-match series in
San Diego. She scored a total of four Sateside.

Next week Danson sets sail across the
globe again, this time to Cordoba ahead of a four-nation tournament
against hosts Argentina, Commonwealth silver medallists New Zealand and

Then, at the end of the month, the
British team moves on to Roasario for the Champions Trophy it what should offer the clearest indication yet of their chances going into the Games.

Danson is confident, however. She said: 'It was a very quiet Christmas – we were training on Christmas Day!

'The Champions Trophy is the last major tournament before the Olympics.

'It's a really big one for us in
terms of playing really good opposition among the top eight in the world
and also really our real match preparation sorted.

'We're so lucky because we spend all of our time all together at Bisham Abbey, training almost every single day.

Childhood dream: Danson was introduced to hockey at an early age by her mother, Trisha

Childhood dream: Danson was introduced to hockey at an early age by her mother, Trisha

'We'll either be working hard on the
field or in the gym, basically trying to get ourselves in the best shape
possible for what will be the most incredible event ever.'

Before getting carried away with the
thought of lining up in front of thousands of British fans at the
Olympic Park, Danson reminds herself that the hard work is far from

'There are two hurdles,' she adds.
'Obviously selection is the first hurdle. Every player has to get over
that. But then secondly, you do get excited but there's so much work to
be done.

'There's still over 200 days to go and we have to make sure every one of those count.

'Although everyone will look at the
seven games at the Olympics, all the work has been done in the
three-four years before going into it.'

The fact that she trains full-time
with her team-mates has given her further cause for optimism at the
Olympics. If selected, of course.

'We've been lucky that we're full-time,' she said. 'Our world ranking has gone from 11th to fourth in the world.

'Going into the Games, I believe we
would have had the best preparation out of any of the sides in the world
and hopefully we can make that count when the big tournament comes

Representing Team GB in August
will be the finest honour of her illustrious career so far. But Danson is
certainly no stranger to the Games.

She played in all five games four
years ago in Beijing, scoring in the 2-1 win over New Zealand, yet
was left with a feeling of bitter disappointment.

Time to shine: Danson is determined to do well on the biggest stage of the them all this summer

Time to shine: Danson is determined to do well on the biggest stage of the them all this summer

Britain failed to get out the Pool
stage, in which they suffered a hammering 5-1 defeat on her Olympic
debut to rivals Germany.

The main source of frustration for
Danson was the broken thumb she sustained in China, not the mention the
ankle scare she suffered going into the Games meaning she was unable to
feel truly satisfied with her efforts.

But it made her appreciate just how
fortunate she was to be there and reignites her determination to
succeed this time round.

'Before Beijing I went over on my ankle just before the Games and I broke my thumb three games in (against Japan),' she added.

'At that point, I realised to go to an Olympic Games you've got to be the luckiest person on the planet.

'Your coach has got to think you're
good enough to select you. Then you've got to avoid getting injured or
try not to get ill. So it makes me look forward to London.

'There are 29 of us who train
full-time and only 16 of us will go. For me, the only way I can look at
it is that if I'm the best I can possibly be then that will put me in

'I'm just keeping my fingers crossed. It would be the biggest honour of any of our sporting careers to play at a home Olympics.

'It's more than you could ever dream.'

Alex Danson and adidas are all in for London 2012. adidas is the Official Sportswear Provider for the London 2012 Olympic Games. To see their latest London2012 collection visit: www.shop.london2012.com

Shane Warne Liz Hurley statue unveiled

Cricket legend Warne immortalised in statue as Liz Hurley joins star for unveiling

Shane Warne cuts a svelte figure these days but his time as a more rotund player were recalled when a bronze statue of the spin-bowling great was unveiled at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.

The 42-year-old made a much-publicised return to cricket after a short retirement at the MCG last weekend in Australia”s revamped domestic Twenty20 competition.

But it was the 708 test wickets – he grabbed his 700th at the MCG – that earned Warne a place alongside 10 other Australian sporting greats outside the most famous sporting venue in his home city.

Tribute: Shane Warne poses with his newly unveiled statue at the MCG in Melbourne

Tribute: Shane Warne poses with his newly unveiled statue at the MCG in Melbourne

“It”s 300 kilos that statue, it”s pretty lifelike for when I played,” Warne joked.

“It”s a great honour, it”s a bit weird seeing yourself up there but I”m very proud.”

Despite having retired from the test arena for nearly four years, Warne remains one of his country”s most popular cricketers and his return was a huge boost to the new “Big Bash” series.

Shane Warne statue unveiled Shane Warne statue unveiled

Unveiling: Warne said he was honoured by the statue as his family joined him for the special occasion

After a quiet first match, he showed he could still produce some magic on the pitch in his second outing for the Melbourne Stars against the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Tuesday.

Fitted with a microphone by the TV broadcaster when bowling to Brendon McCullum, Warne said he thought the New Zealander would sweep the next delivery and that he “might try to slide one in there… fast”.

Family outing: Warne was accompanied by Liz Hurley and their children from previous marriages

Family outing: Warne was accompanied by Liz Hurley and their children from previous marriages

He duly bowled the batsmen around his legs with the ball hitting the off-stump, leaving McCullum lauding the Australian”s “genius”.

“He”s still got it. He”s the oracle isn”t he He”s a genius,” he said. “I was just trying to pay the respect by looking to play a fine lap shot to get off strike and attack the other guys.

Genius: Warne predicted taking Brendon McCullum

Genius: Warne predicted taking Brendon McCullum”s wicket on live TV then did so with his next ball

“He”s just too good, I got beaten to the punch by the world”s greatest player, there”s no harm in that.”

Arsenal statues unveiled: Thierry Henry in tears

Teary Henry as Arsenal unveil statues to former French star, Adams and Chapman

Thierry Henry paid an emotional tribute to Arsenal and his former team-mates after seeing himself immortalised in a bronze statue outside Emirates Stadium on Friday afternoon.

The Gunners record goalscorer was one of three club legends to be honoured as part of their 125th anniversary celebrations, with former manager Herbert Chapman and also captain Tony Adams, who led Arsene Wenger”s men to the Double twice, each receiving a similar tribute.

Henry left Arsenal for Barcelona in June 2007, where the Frenchman would go on to lift the Champions League before moving to the Major Soccer League in the United States with New York Red Bulls.

Emotional: It

Emotional: It”s all a bit much for Thierry Henry as his statue is unveiled

Icon: Arsenal

Icon: Arsenal”s tribute to former striker Henry

The 34-year-old, however, insists Arsenal will always remain in his heart.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would have a statue like this in front of the stadium of the team I love and support,” said Henry, who netted 226 goals as the Gunners won two Premier League titles and the FA Cup twice.

“The way the statue is gives the perfect example of the love I have for the club – me kneeling facing the Emirates Stadium and Highbury behind is amazing.

“I also have to thank the fans, you have always been special, and I always try to give my best, I know times it was not enough, but I always give it all out there on the field for you guys and the club.

“It is kind of weird to think of the amount of great players who have played for Arsenal, and for me to be right here, I have to say thanks to all of them, because I would not be able to be right there kneeling in front of this stadium, without them.

“Also, I must give a special thanks to my close friends…..”

Solid: Tony Adams has a permanent place outside the Emirates Stadium

Solid: Tony Adams has a permanent place outside the Emirates Stadium

After taking a few moments to compose himself, Henry added: “I know some of the press used to kill me for not showing emotion – well, there you go, I am showing emotion for the club I love.

“Whatever I do, I do it with my heart, that is the way I am.

“It was not always easy to cope with the pressure of delivering, but from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Arsenal Football Club for giving me this opportunity to be here in front of this club I love – once a Gooner, always a Gooner.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart, but I played with some great players too and it would not have been possible without them.”

Standing proud: The statue of Herbert Chapman

Standing proud: The statue of Herbert Chapman

Gunners boss Wenger had worked with Henry during their time at Monaco, and was instrumental in helping mould the French winger into one of the world”s best players following his 11million move from Juventus in the summer of 1999.

Wenger hailed his former captain as the model professional.
“Thierry deserves the honour he gets today, and I am very proud to witness it,” the Gunners boss said.

“His sensational career was down simply to Thierry”s class. He is a player who had everything you dream of as a manager – physical potential, a technical level, super intelligence and what people also forget for many top level athletes, is he was dedicated to his job, with a very serious life.

“He is simply a model (professional) who won everything you can in our world – Thierry, you were really special.”

Sailing World Championships: Ben Ainslie wins two first day races

Five-time champion Ainslie claims two race wins as worlds get under way in Australia

Ben Ainslie laid down the an early marker in the Finn class at sailing”s World Championships.

The 34-year-old already has an unprecedented five world titles and started his Finn Gold Cup run strongly on his first days racing.

Despite having already secured his Olympic berth, Ainslie did not rest on his laurels and picked up two race wins in Australia.

“They were a couple of difficult races,” Ainslie said. “There was nice breeze but it was still quite tricky and everyone was anxious to get racing. I”m happy with two wins but there”s a long way to go and some tough competition out there.”

Water performance: Ben Ainslie made a bold start at the ISAF Sailing World Championships

Water performance: Ben Ainslie made a bold start at the ISAF Sailing World Championships

Like Ainslie, Olympic bronze medallist Bryony Shaw enjoyed a good start to the regatta as she secured a second and third in the RS:X women”s windsurfing, putting her second overall.

Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell also lie second in their class, the 470 men”s, after recovering from a poor start to their first race to finish fifth, before winning the day”s second race.

“We really couldn”t have asked for much more on the first day,” Patience said. “Since me and Stuart started sailing together one of our strengths has been comebacks, and often races like that we call “regatta savers”.

“You can mill around in 28th at the back of the fleet having had a bad start, or you can get on your toes and do something about it. The opportunities are always there, they”re always presenting themselves it”s just about seeing them. It was a deep windward mark rounding and a nice wee finish at the end.”

Fleet racing continues in the Finn, 470 men”s, Laser Radial and RS:X women”s events tomorrow, while Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor also return to action for the next bouts in their women”s match racing round robin group.