Louis Smith, who ushered Great Britain’s recent surge in 2008 with its first Olympic gymnastics medal in 80 years, retired after earning four medals among three Games.
Smith last competed on the top level at the Rio Olympics, where he earned his third straight pommel horse medal, a silver after a bronze in 2008 and a silver in 2012. Smith also helped Great Britain to team bronze at London 2012.
Smith shared the top score in the 2012 Olympic pommel horse final but was relegated to silver behind Hungarian Krisztian Berki via tiebreaker with Kate Middleton in attendance. He came out of retirement to make his third Olympic team for Rio.
“I’m a baby in the grand scheme of things, yeah, but, sporting world, I’m getting on a little bit,” the 29-year-old said on British TV on Thursday. “Last year, I had the mindset that given the time around now I was going to get back into training and try and push towards 2020. But then certain situations arised. The whole qualification process has changed. There’s a very minuscule chance I’ll even qualify. I thought, give it a chance, but then new opportunities come up.”
Revamped Olympic gymnastics qualification places a greater emphasis on all-around gymnasts for the team event, dropping rosters from five men to four.
Athletes can also qualify for individual spots via the apparatus World Cup series, but only one spot is available per apparatus, and it could require a busy competition schedule over the 16 months.
“I guess there’s a day that every sportsman or woman knows is going to arrive in their career,” Smith said in a social media video. “For me, that day is today. … It’s been a very hard point to get to this decision, but it has been made. But I’ve had an incredible career.”
Smith, also a five-time world championships medalist, won “Strictly Come Dancing” in 2012 and will star in the musical “Rip it Up” on London’s West End in February.
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