Gymnastics: Whitlock becomes heart-throb after medal success

 

Bronze medallist Max Whitlock has become an overnight heart-throb after helping Team GB to win the first Olympic medal for British male gymnasts in a century.

Whitlock, 19, and his team-mates won bronze last night at North Greenwich Arena, and the “medal miracle” saw Twitter flooded with messages from fans both male and female, calling him “gorgeous”, “cute” and “hot”.

His girlfriend Leah Hickton, 20, from Basildon, spoke of her pride today, saying:  “He’s always been popular with the girls — and the men — and they often write to him on Twitter. It’s brilliant, as it’s about time he got some attention for all the effort he puts in.

“I don’t get jealous as Max is so sweet and always makes time for me and my family. He came down and saw us after winning his medal yesterday.”

Whitlock, from Hemel Hempstead, took the first British men’s gymnastics team medal since 1912 alongside Louis Smith, 23, Sam Oldham, 19, Daniel Purvis, 21, and Kristian Thomas, 23. They were in second place after the final round but a successful appeal by the Japanese team saw them relegated from silver to bronze.

“It was really nail-biting but once we knew they’d won a medal the crowd went insane,” said Miss Hickton. “I was so proud of Max. I ran to the front to make sure he knew I was there cheering him on and he gave me a wave.”

The couple have been together five years, after meeting as young members of South Essex Gymnastics Club. Miss Hickton has since moved into coaching and graduated with a First in PE and sport studies at Greenwich University this summer. She added: “Max arranged for a bouquet and card to be delivered when I got my results even though he was at the Olympics. He always calls before I go to bed and makes time for me between training.”

Whitlock’s parents Madeleine and Brian were in the arena to cheer on their son, who has been training since the age of seven. At the family home today, Mrs Whitlock  said: “I’m so proud of him. All those years of hard work have been worth it.”

After posting a picture of his medal on Twitter today, Whitlock said: “We had no expectations of getting a medal. We wanted to get out there and have fun, and we did.

“First of all we thought we had a silver medal — but silver or bronze, it doesn’t matter really. We made history.”

Whitlock’s coach Scott Hann, 32, who is Miss Hickton’s brother-in-law, said: “The aim was always just to make the final and everything else would be a bonus. To win a medal was absolutely incredible. I saw Max after and he had tears in his eyes — it was a really emotional day.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor