Max Whitlock welcomes return of Olympic team-mate Louis Smith ahead of Commonwealth Games

Max Whitlock - does not see Louis Smith as a rival on the pommel

Max Whitlock - does not see Louis Smith as a rival on the pommel

First published in Sport by

MAX Whitlock has welcomed Louis Smith back to gymnastics and feels it will boost England’s chances of Commonwealth gold.

Smith, 24, ended his sabbatical from the sport after London 2012 this week saying he still feels he has “unfinished business”.

South Essex star Whitlock, 20, says it is great to see him back, even though Smith will be a big rival to him on the pommel horse at Glasgow 2014.

“He is competition but I don’t look at it like that,” said Whitlock.

“Louis is a strong competitor and will improve our team.

“And if he comes back and looks strong then that can only be a good thing for our hopes of getting a medal.

“The more he scores the more competitive we’ll be and, as individuals, it will push us all to do better.”

Smith took a break from the sport after winning pommel silver and team bronze alongside Whitlock at the Olympics.

During his time off he won BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, and many felt he would not compete in gymnastics again.

Whitlock said: “Nobody knew what Louis was going to do. I’d spoken to (fellow GB gymnast) Dan Keatings about it because he’s a team-mate of Louis’ at Huntingdon, but we didn’t know. It was surprising, but great news.”

Whitlock was back in action at GB training camp at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre this week and says he is focussed on having a successful 2014.

He said: “In March we’ve got the English and British championships coming up, but my main focus this year is making the teams for the Europeans, Commonwealths and the Worlds.

“There’s a lot going on and gymnastics is a bit like that, but I’m ready to have a good year.”

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