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Commonwealth Games Preview: Daniel Purvis

Editor
29th July, 2014
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He was born in Liverpool and speaks with a thick Scouse accent, but gymnast Daniel Purvis goes into the 2014 Commonwealth Games as one of Scotland’s main medal hopes.

Two years ago Purvis, then 21, stood shoulder to shoulder with his Team GB teammates on the podium in London after sealing bronze in the men’s artistic team.

Now the four men he basked in the spoils of Great Britain’s first Olympic men’s gymnastic medal since 1912 – England’s Louis Smith, Max Whitlock, Sam Oldham and Kristian Thomas – become his opponents.

In the lead-up to Glasgow all five have continued to train with each other at Lilleshall, the national training centre for gymnastics in the United Kingdom, but Purvis is relishing coming up against the quartet.

“It will be great to compete against each other,” he said.

“England will be the favourites, but we will definitely give them a run for their money. The goal will be to get a team medal for Scotland.”

By way of his mother Denise, who was born in Dundee, Purvis is eligible to compete for Scotland and has previously explained that part of him “still feels Scottish”, hence his choice.

Purvis is one of just three Olympic medallists on Team Scotland, and the host nation is certain to pack Glasgow’s newly built SSE Hydro arena when men’s team and individual qualifications begin on July 28.

After missing the 2010 Commonwealth Games in favour of a world championship event around the same time, Purvis will be making his Commonwealth Games debut in Glasgow.

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His form over the last two years has been outstanding, and he goes into the Commonwealth Games as the joint-top all-around men’s gymnast in the world.

But as one of Scotland’s main medal hopes he will carry the hopes of the nation and how he reacts to this will be crucial to his chances.

He has previously spoken of the inspiration of seeing Murray’s triumphs at London 2012 and at Wimbledon last year, and he would do well to speak to his compatriot about how best to handle the weight of public expectation.

In his favour, however, Purvis has competed in a number of international events at Glasgow in the past and his experience should help him in dealing with the pressure.

What am I competing in?
Alongside German Fabian Hambüchen, Purvis goes into the Commonwealth Games at the top of the FIG all-around world rankings.

He’ll go into the individual all-around event, which comprises floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar, as a deserved favourite.

Purvis will also compete in the team event, and joins a team that shapes as one of Scotland’s genuine medal chances.

Daniel Keatings will be another key member of the team as will Adam Cox, who won bronze at Melbourne in 2006 and has come out of retirement.

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They’ll be joined by 2012 European junior champion Frank Baines and Liam Davie.

Who’s my competition?
In the individual all-around event Purvis should be hard to beat, but one of the key questions will be how he handles the expectations of the Scottish public.

Fellow Scot Keatings performed strongly at the British Championships in March, and English pair Oldham and Whitlock loom as the other main individual contenders.

The four aforementioned members of the England team will go into the men’s all-around team event as favourites after their efforts in 2012 at the London Olympics.

Australia go into the team event as gold medal winners from Delhi but none of the five-man team remain.

The team has been further weakened by the withdrawals of Michael Mercicia, Jayden Bull and Mitchell Morgan as they opt to prepare for October’s world championships.

As such, the Australians go into the event with a largely developmental lineup but they’ll be guided by the experience of 37-year-old Naoya Tsukahara, a three-time Olympian for Japan who was made eligible to compete for Australia in 2013.

Previous form
Purvis admitted after the 2012 Olympics that the new-found fame associated with winning a medal had affected his competitive focus post-London, but in the last 12 months he looks to be returning to his top form.

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He finished seventh in the individual all-around event at the 2013 world championships in Belgium and claimed silver and bronze at World Cup events at Glasgow and Stuttgart respectively.

Alongside Keatings, Purvis was a part of the Great Britain team that finished second behind the highly fancied Russia at the 2014 European Championships, and he also shone at this year’s British Championships.

Keatings’ strong form in 2014 will inspire confidence for Scotland in the team event, and rising talent Baines shapes as one who could break through for the host nation.

What makes him a ‘must watch’?
As mentioned previously, the Australian all-around team is going through what is best described as a transitionary phase with an eye on the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and is unlikely to be considered a genuine medal hope.

With a sizeable portion of the Australian population possessing some Scottish heritage there will be many who automatically will cheer on the host nation’s fortunes – but even those who don’t share a bloodline can find a common bond with our Scottish brethren.

After all, if there is one country who revels in beating the English as much as Australia it is Scotland.

With England going into the men’s all-around team event as favourites it is the perfect opportunity to rally behind Purvis and his teammates to deny England top spot on the podium.

Fast facts
Name: Daniel Purvis
Age: 23
Height: 168cm
Birthplace: Crosby, Merseyside
Resides: Southport
Sport: Artistic Gymnastics
Events: Men’s all-around individual, men’s team all-around
Twitter followers: 17,200 (@PurvisDanny)

– Growing up in football-mad Liverpool, Purvis admits he was ordinary with the round ball despite his brother being considered a decent footballer.
– After growing tired of him jumping off the sofa in the family home, Purvis’ parents sent him to the local gymnastics club.
– Purvis qualifies to compete for Scotland via his mother, who was born in Dundee.
– In 2012 at an event in Montpellier, Purvis slipped on the vault and landed in a judge’s lap. It was later revealed he had been suffering food poisoning and had barely slept – but it didn’t prevent him from attaining the highest all-around score at the event.
– In the leadup to the 2012 London Olympics Purvis’ face graced the cover of West England city Chester’s phone book.

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This article was first published on the Tenplay website.