Olympic medal winner Louis Smith was given a popstar welcome at March Neale-Wade Academy when he popped along to offer pupils some sporting inspiration this afternoon.
The 23-year-old who scooped bronze and silver medals at London 2012 was greeted by screaming girls and high-fiving boys as he stepped up to talk about his Olympic experience and to answer questions from students.
Lewis, who might be better known by some for his trophy winning experience on last year’s Strictly Come Dancing, spoke of the sacrifices necessary to achieve the dream he harboured as a 10-year-old to become a famous gymnast.
He paid tribute to the dedication and commitment given by his mum as she ferried him around the country to compete in various competitions as well as to and from regular training sessions with Huntingdon Gymnastic Club.
His visit to the March school is part of a nationwide tour he is undertaking to fulfil what he sees as the Olympic legacy in trying to inspire a generation.
It was the sixth school of the tour, which will see him take in cities as far afield as London and Newcastle.
This week he has been focusing on schools in his home county of Cambridgeshire and said he was thoroughly enjoying the whole experience.
“They talk about the Olympic legacy and this is my way of helping to make it happen,” said Louis, who admitted the reaction from pupils was something he really enjoyed.
His talk, which was followed by a question and answer question, tried to put the message across that sport doesn’t have to be about hard-work, but should be enjoyed and if individuals want to then take it further they should be prepared to make sacrifices.
“I try to make it as fun as I can but at the same time get the message across,” said Louis, who said questions raised from visits so far range from “will you marry me” to whether or not he likes carrots, as well as others about training, fitness and injuries.
Neale-Wade’s Year 7 pupils also urged him to demonstrate some of his gymnastic skills and egged him on to do a back flip - which he did, brilliantly. Louis also showed off his dancing feet by twirling staff member Lisa Bulbrook around the hall in an impromptu waltz accompanied by his own singing.
The session ended happily when he joined pupils for pictures and signed log-books, much to the delight of everyone present.