Tuesday September 21, 2021

Max Whitlock retains Olympic pommel title

August 02, 2021

TOKYO: Max Whitlock shrugged off the nerves and reached for the stars in the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, delivering one of the most difficult routines of his career when it mattered most to retain his Olympic pommel title.

First up in the eight-man final, the defending champion chose his highest difficulty rating as he gambled that going clean would effectively rule out his rivals and seal Britain’s 10th gold medal of the Games.

As he has so many times in his increasingly illustrious career, the 28-year-old did just that, nailing a score of 15.583, more than half a point higher than his qualifying mark and ultimately too much for his would-be successors to emulate. In order to do so, Whitlock revealed he had to fight off an unfamiliar amount of nerves: “This was the most nervous I’ve been for any competition I’ve ever done,” he said afterwards.

“Retaining titles is a million times harder than chasing them. You know you’ve done it before and you want that feeling again. You watch all those medals flowing in for Team GB and you can relate to it and you know your time is coming up.

“The pressure was on as the first man up. I usually have three different options of routines, but this time I was just all in.

“That’s the biggest routine I’ve competed, the risk was very high and I can’t believe it has paid off. My emotions are going crazy.

“It’s been a crazy journey and when the final score came up, my emotions hit me like a ton of bricks.”