Hemel Hempstead gymnast Max Whitlock has continued his meteoric rise to the top of the sport by winning a fantastic silver medal in the men’s all-round final at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championship in Nanning.
Whitlock was only handed a place in the final following the withdrawal of British team-mate Nile Wilson due to a wrist injury, but the Adeyfield man seized the opportunity with both hands.
Having endured a shaky time in qualifying and missed out on each of the individual finals, Whitlock was clearly determined to get back to his best and show the world what he could do.
The double Olympic medallist from London 2012 started with a scintillating pommel horse routine which handed him a fantastic score of 16.00 and first place overall on the leaderboard after the first rotation.
He then moved onto rings – one of his least favoured pieces of apparatus – and put in a solid display to score 14.466 which was good enough to keep him second overall behind Japanese superstar Kohei Uchimura.
Next up was the vault, and Max was on top form once again to score an excellent 15.366, executing the triple twist which he has been working so hard on in training with coach Scott Hann. That kept him in second place overall in the standings, but with Colombia’s Calvo Moreno breathing down his neck in third place.
The fourth piece of apparatus for Whitlock was the parallel bars–- again not one of his favourites – and his near faultless performance continued as he scored 14.975.
This was, however, not good enough to keep him in second place in the standings as he was leapfrogged by Ukranian gymnast Oleg Verniaiev; Whitlock slipping to third place but with a medal still very much in his sights.
Onto the high bar, and nerves perhaps started to show for the first time as a few small errors crept into Whitlock’s performance, resulting in a score of 14.200 which saw him slip into fourth place behind Belyavskiy of Russia.
That meant everything rested on his floor routine and Whitlock was at his imperious best as he delivered a tornado of twisting tumbles to score 15.466 and give himself a real medal chance with a total score of 15.466 to move into top spot.
It was then a nervous wait for Whitlock and his army of British supporters as the rest of the competitors attempted to prize the medal from his grasp, but the Hemel hero held on for a superb silver, with final performer Uchimura deservedly taking gold.