Louis Smith - Olympics 2012
It has become rare in recent weeks to turn on the TV without seeing a certain Louis Smith gyrating his toned body around a pommel horse to promote Lucozade and various other sports-related products. Turn on the radio and he’s stealing the show on Chris Moyles’ morning show on Radio One.
In case you did not know, we are mere weeks away from a certain huge sporting event in London. The Olympics, it’s called. You may even have bought some tickets to see the Synchronised Swimming, or even purchased some overpriced merchandise. What you may not have realised is that Louis is a former AMVC student, and a successful one at that. What might surprise you is that Louis was not particularly successful when it came to sports, as he was already heavily committed to his gymnastics training by the time he joined us as a fresh-faced Year 7 student in 2000. As his English teacher at that point, I remember a bright and imaginative young man. A more vivid memory is the look on the faces of his PE teachers after his first lesson in the gymnasium. When I mentioned this to him one day on the playground, he modestly mentioned that he was “quite good” and that he hoped to make a career out of it, unless he chose to become a singer instead.
As his commitment to the pommel horse grew and he spent more and more time away at international events, it became clear that “quite good” was something of an understatement. In Year 10, I took over as his Form Tutor and English teacher, where it became apparent that great things lay ahead of him. His mum became a regular visitor to the school, determined to ensure that whatever his commitments outside the College, he would leave school with a decent set of GCSE results. With the travelling to Huntingdon every day, and all evenings and weekends eaten up by training, it is a great credit to Louis, his mum and his teachers that he achieved a good overall set of GCSE results, despite the fact that it was not unusual for him to fall asleep in lessons. It is still hard for me to see him doing a TV interview without wanting to award him a grade for speaking and listening. As it was, he achieved a good grade in English; now he’s most definitely A*, a confident and charming interviewee who seems born to be in front of the camera.
Louis remained at the College for the first year of Sixth Form, though his increasing training commitments and jaunts to exciting international events limited his progress. I do, however, hold an ace up my sleeve. As part of his Media Studies AS Level, for which he achieved a highly creditable grade, Louis created a promo music video for ‘Golddigger’ by Kanye West, somehow finding the time to star, film and edit it. If he wins gold – and obviously he has the very best wishes of all staff and students at the College – I might just dig out his music video and send it to the BBC.
It has been fantastic for those of us who taught Louis to see his incredible progress, not just as a hugely talented gymnast but equally as a person, blossoming into a warm, entertaining and self-possessed young man, who surely has a great shot at gold, and a bright career in the media far into the future.
Mr B Zaidi, Media Teacher