May 12, 2008 / 2:31 AM / in 11 years

Fabian Hambuechen switches his focus to Olympics

LAUSANNE (Reuters) - Four years after turning up at the Athens Games as a precocious bespectacled teenager, Fabian Hambuechen has now set his sights on Olympic glory.

Fabian Hambuechen of Germany performs on the floor during the final event of the 28th European Men's Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Lausanne May 11, 2008. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud

In Greece, the German gymnast had turned heads — but rather than the gravity defying routines that has now become his signature, it was his glasses that got him the attention.

People were more interested in knowing how he managed to keep he spectacles on while he performed his high flying routines on the horizontal bar.

The glasses are now long gone — replaced by more practical contact lenses — and the focus is now firmly on his talent.

“I’ve grown up. There is more attention on me now but for me nothing really has changed over the past four years,” the 20-year-old told Reuters in an interview.

“I still train at home, still have my father as my coach and I finished high school last year. Next year I want to start studying again but everything else is just like before.”

But not everything is like before.

On Sunday he captured his third European title on the bar, and with the world gold medal also in his possession, he will be carrying the hopes of Germany on his muscular shoulders.

He got a taste of what life could be like when he won three medals at last year’s worlds in front of his home fans in Stuttgart.

He admitted life in Germany “went a little crazy” but after replicating the feat in Lausanne — also winning a silver in the team final and bronze on floor exercise — he now wants to bag an Olympic hat-trick.

“It was a dream for me to reach that goal in Stuttgart. This time I got the whole set in the Europeans... so it would be nice to have whole set again (in Beijing),” said Hambuechen.

“I now have a good feeling about the Olympics. I want to reach the team final, all round final and obviously I want a gold on the bar.”

MOTIVATED FOR BEIJING

Having qualified for four of the six apparatus finals in Switzerland — more than any other athlete — he feels he is on the right track to do well in Beijing.

Before the Olympics begin on August 8, Hambuechen plans to iron out the faults in his routines during his daily 6-1/2 hour training sessions.

“First I have to train on pommel horse so that my all-round will be good,” said the world all-round silver medalist, who opted out of performing on the apparatus this week.

“I have to fix my routines. On p-bars (parallel bars) I can maybe do more. Definitely on high bar I can do more.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I’m trying my best and make sure I’m trained to do well and hopefully the results will come. I’m really motivated for Beijing now.”

Editing by Padraic Halpin

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