The Great Britain men's gymnastics team appeared in the all-around final for the first time in 88 years on Monday, eventually capturing the bronze medal, and a large part of it had to do with captain Louis Smith.
Smith, 23, captured a bronze medal in the pommel horse in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That's more significant than it seems.
Smith's bronze in 2008 was the first individual medal the British men had captured in the Olympics since 1908. It was the first individual medal any Briton (men's or women's) had captured since 1928. Great Britain had basically been the Chicago Cubs of men's gymnastics before Smith put the country back on the map.
Daniel Purvis, 21, credits Smith for Great Britain's rise in the Olympics.
Purvis said after Great Britain qualified for the men's all-around final on Saturday, per the Independent:
What Louis did in Beijing enabled British gymnasts to get sponsorship money, which has really helped my training and everyone else’s. The legacy he created is really big and it’s about everyone coming together.
The British men have soared above expectations. They were ranked seventh in the odds for gold headed into London (per OddsChecker.com), and they only were eclipsed by the U.S. and Russia in qualifying on Saturday. Great Britain sent shockwaves throughout the world on Monday by simply medaling.
There are some individual accomplishments in the Olympics that are more than just individual accomplishments. They have the ability to extend far beyond the individual. They can lift an entire country from the doldrums and catapult it to heights rarely imagined.
Smith's bronze medal in 2008 has apparently done this for Great Britain, and it's only fitting that the men's team is soaring as London hosts the Olympics.
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