Hemel Hempstead’s Max Whitlock is hoping to lead South Essex Gymnastics Club to a fourth successive title at the British Team Gymnastics Championships.
Double Olympic-medallist Max travels to Leicester with his Essex team-mates tomorrow, where he will be competing on all six pieces of apparatus.
“It’s all about trying to be the best club,” said Max. “We’ve won in three years in a row so hopefully we can defend the title again. I’m looking forward to it.”
Max, 20, has continued to flourish this year and took the silver medal in the men’s pommel horse final at the World Championships early last month. And he says he will be using tomorrow’s competition as a way of easing his way back into things.
“I’m just going to be doing some basic routines tomorrow because I’ve not long been back from the Worlds and I’m gently getting back into it. I’m just hoping to deliver the routines as cleanly as possible.”
The British Team Gymnastics Championships will be Adeyfield man Max’s last competitive action of 2013, but he will continue to work on new routines ahead of next year’s busy calendar – which includes the European Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships.
“I’ve got a couple of weeks before I go on holiday and then after that it’s all about working on my routines for next year,” said Max.
“My main focus is to get an all-round spot, and also a spot on the floor and pommel.
“Hopefully I can get some new moves and start working on them as soon as possible. It all comes down to preparation for Rio in 2016, really.”
Max is touted as a potential gold medal hope for Team GB at the Olympics in Rio, but to take his place at the top of the podium he will need to beat his own sporting idol – Japanese star Kohei Uchimura.
The poster boy of Japanese gymnastics, Uchimura is the 2013 world all-around champion and Max says he hopes to emulate his hero in Rio.
“It was a great experience at the World Championships,” said Max. “It was amazing competing against the likes of Uchimura – I watch him on YouTube so to see his live was incredible. The whole crowd just went silent when he was on the high bar and he delivered.
“He’s the gymnast I really look up to and he’s the best gymnast I’ve seen in a long time. I really aspire to be like him.
“Everything from now on is leading up to Rio 2016.”
Find out how Max gets on at tomorrow’s British Team Gymnastics Championships in next week’s Gazette, out on Wednesday.