OLYMPIC gymnast and winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2012, Louis Smith MBE, sprang into action at King’s Ely Junior today (May 1) after making a surprise appearance in the school sports hall.
As well as talking to the pupils about the importance of hard work and commitment, Louis met keen gymnasts Barnaby Whittmore (age 7) and Anna Baird (age 11). Both Anna and Barnaby spend hours every week training at Huntingdon Gymnastics Club, where Louis also trains under coach Paul Hall.
After delighting her classmates with an impressive floor routine, Anna went head to head with Louis to see who could do the longest hand stand. Barnaby and Louis practised their back arches. And as if that wasn’t entertainment enough, Louis then showed off his dancing moves with teacher Bridget Pope, who used to teach Ballroom Dancing at the school.
With three Olympic medals to his name, Louis won the title of Britain’s greatest ever gymnast following his flawless performances in front of his home crowd at the London 2012 Olympics. He secured his first major international title aged 15 and went on to win medals at various European and World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Olympics.
“Louis’ incredible successes, achieved through dedication and commitment, made him an excellent guest,” commented Richard Whymark, Head of King’s Ely Junior.
“His example has inspired and continues to inspire young people who wish to aim high. We were delighted to welcome Louis to King’s Ely as an ambassador for sport and our region.”
Barnaby, who will start competing next year when he turns eight, currently trains twice a week for one and a half hours. His favourite pieces of apparatus are the rings and parallel bars. He has always wanted to be a professional gymnast and hopes to compete at the Olympics one day.
Anna joined the toddlers’ sessions at Huntingdon before she could even walk and now competes regionally as part of the elite team. She spends eight to 12 hours per week training and often bounces straight onto the trampoline as soon as she returns home, leaving just enough time in the evenings to do her homework!