Max Whitlock: Who is the Team GB gymnast and Olympic medal hopeful?

Pommel horse specialist appearing at third Games and has two previous golds to his name

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 26 July 2021 16:06 BST
Max Whitlock in action at the Tokyo Olympics
Max Whitlock in action at the Tokyo Olympics (Mike Egerton/PA)

British gymnast Max Whitlock, 28, is one of Team GB’s brightest medal hopes at Tokyo 2020 and has already finished a respectable fourth in the finals of the men’s artistic gymnastics along with teammates Joe Fraser, Giarnni Regini-Moran and James Hall and is in the final of the solo pommel horse.

The Hemel Hempstead-born athlete has five Olympic medals in his collection as it is, having picked up two golds and a bronze in Rio de Janeiro five years ago and two more bronzes prior to that at the London 2012 Games where he first rose to international prominence.

Elsewhere, he has picked up three golds and five silvers at the World Championships over the last decade, plus four golds, three silvers and a bronze at the European Championships, a World Cup gold in Glasgow in 2016 and a further four golds, four silvers and two bronzes at the Commonwealth Games.

In truth, Whitlock did not hit his peak form despite qualifying on Day One of the Tokyo Games, his third-placed score of 14.900 on the horse some way short of his gold-winning 15.966 performance in Rio five years ago and one he will have to improve on to repeat his success in the final of that discipline on Sunday 1 August.

Born on 13 January 1993, Whitlock swapped swimming for gymnastics aged just seven and enrolled in his hometown’s Sapphire School of Gymnastics as his talent became apparent.

Subsequently spending time training in Maribor, Slovenia, when his coach Klemen Bedenik relocated there, Whitlock returned and joined the South Essex Gymnastics Club in Basildon.

It was there he first met coach Scott Hann, who remains at his side, and where he developed his craft prior to making his competitive debut at the 2010 Junior European Championships in Birmingham, where he won gold on the pommel horse and the floor and was placed second all-around, a triumph that would prove to be the springboard for his subsequent success.

He was made an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List, is married and has a two-year-old daughter.

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