Former coach backs Max to lead Rio medal charge

Max Whitlock in his London 2012 Team GB kit
Max Whitlock in his London 2012 Team GB kit

A double Olympic bronze medallist at just 19, Max Whitlock possesses the talent to ensure they won’t be his or Great Britain’s last, according to national junior coach Barry Collie.

A graduate of Collie’s junior programme, the Hemel Hempstead gymnast is set to dominate for the foreseeable future along with fellow youngster Sam Oldham.

After securing Britain’s first team gymnastics medal for 100 years alongside Oldham, Louis Smith, Kristian Thomas, and Dan Purvis, Max earned another on the pommel horse in London on his Olympic debut.

And Max’s home-soil heroics were no fluke according to Collie, who backs his former star to spearhead the next generation to Rio and beyond.

“Max and Sam were part of the junior programme and probably our first generation of kids that have moved out from the junior to the senior and done really well,” said Collie, speaking at the UK Coaching Awards 2012, supported by Gillette.

“We are very proud of their achievements and it’s something we hope the next generation can do the same.

“We try to identify from a young age who has the capacity to win Olympic medals and we always believed in Max and it was great to see him materialise in London.

“We want that squad to maintain the level that they are at. We want more medals and we want to maintain their team ranking. However the exciting thing is the sustainability.

“Was the result achieved just because it was a home Games? I don’t believe that and I believe we can stay involved at the top end in the top-five nations and regularly qualify and challenge for medals.

“I believe it can be on par with rowing and cycling as a main-stage sport for Olympic medals.

“I think UK Sport needs to look at the whole programme, look at what we do from nine years old all the way up to senior and ensure it’s a fantastic programme – not just for Olympic medals which we proved we can deliver, but for all sport, disabilities and club development.”

And Collie believes the experience Max gained at London 2012 makes him perfectly placed to lead the next generation.

“We hope we have a production line where our gymnasts move from junior to senior and are capable of winning Olympic medals,” he added.

“We are good at identifying the talent and not closing the door on them and letting them grow and keeping a big team for a long period of time, with Max as an example to follow.”

Gillette’s support of the UK Coaching Awards follows its partnership with Sports Coach UK earlier this year as part of the Great Starts campaign.

This was introduced to celebrate coaches and inspire the next generation by awarding coaching grants

For further information on applying for a grant through the scheme, please visit