Team GB Exclusive: Renewed Whitlock ready to take on world

Team GB Exclusive: Renewed Whitlock ready to take on world

13 August 2015 / 14:30

As far as exclusive clubs go, artistic gymnastics finds itself in one of the most elite groups in sport.

Along with athletics, swimming, fencing and some form of cycling, the discipline has never been absent from the summer games since the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.

So when it comes to reaching the pinnacle of the discipline there is only one arena that any gymnast wants to compete in.

For Max Whitlock that dream was realised in the most spectacular fashion as he took double bronze in front of a home crowd at London 2012.

It was a special moment for the youngster and for the country, given that four years earlier Louis Smith’s bronze in Beijing was Britain’s first gymnastics medal for 80 years.

Since then Whitlock has been riding on the crest of a wave and has racked up no fewer than 12 medals at major international tournaments.

But sometimes the body has a way of telling you to slow down and for Whitlock this came earlier in the year when glandular fever put paid to any hopes of a European medal in Montpellier.

However, while Whitlock felt the frustration of time on the sideline he believes he has come back to training reinvigorated and feels like a new man ahead of this year’s World Championships in Glasgow.

“The Europeans was a strange one for me and there were frustrations before with the glandular fever and originally not knowing why I was not feeling fit,” he said.

“I definitely feel like I needed the rest but I was just itching to get back into the gym and training again.

“It was what I really needed because since London 2012 I was on a high until last year and if there was a good time to take a break then that was it.

“I feel great at the moment and I am training really well and feel stronger than I ever have before.

“Now I feel great and my training has increased and I feel stronger and have got bigger even though I have lost weight.

“And having time out and going through a period where you can’t do what you want to do is something that makes you stronger mentally.

“You learn how to deal with those hard times and as an athlete that is something that is really important.”

It wasn’t just illness that has contributed to a stronger Whitlock and while history might only log the silver he won at last year’s World Championships, the medal is only half the story.

The 22-year-old had originally missed out on the all-around final but an injury to teammate Nile Wilson meant he was given a reprieve and another crack at the whip.

“The Worlds last year were a big competition for me but I think I went into them putting too much pressure on myself,” he added.

“I went in there trying too hard and not being able to relax and just do what I had been training to do.

“I think the Worlds made me a better gymnast and I probably needed to go through that experience to realise the right way to approach competitions.

“I don’t like to think about medals too much anymore I just like to get out there and do the best that I can do and worry about the rest later.

“I can’t wait to get back to Glasgow and go again at the Worlds this year and I feel like I am in a much better place.”

© Sportsbeat 2015