Whitlock credits fatherhood with fresh perspective as he gears up for Tokyo
Whitlock won the pommel title at the British Gymnastics Championships.
Max Whitlock is convinced fatherhood has given him a new sense of perspective and will put him in a stronger position to repeat his Olympic heroics in Tokyo next year.
Watched by his three-week-old daughter Willow and wife Leah in Liverpool, Whitlock won the pommel title at the British Gymnastics Championships with a score which would have been big enough to take world gold last year.
Instead of his usual finely-tuned preparations, the 26-year-old revealed he spent the build-up to the competition with Willow’s needs at the forefront of his mind – and the new routine will continue to take precedence towards 2020 and beyond.
Whitlock told Press Association Sport: “It still feels pretty crazy at the moment. Before the competition I was sterilizing bottles and packing the changing bag.
“It’s important to have routines but it has put a lot of things into perspective. There is so much to think about that I don’t get nervous until I get into the arena. I am going round the rotations feeling much more chilled.”
Aside from scoring 15.350 on the pommel, Whitlock also competed on floor and parallel bars – the latter for the first time since the team event in Rio – and expects to press ahead with plans to perform more pieces in Japan.
“I’m building back up slowly and by the end of the year I’m hoping to also get back on high bar,” added Whitlock. “I’m hoping to do four pieces which would be a huge help to the team if needed. Everything is becoming clearer in my head.”
Whitlock confirmed he will seek to emulate cycling pair Jason and Laura Kenny, who take their young son Albie with them to global competitions, as he progresses towards the defence of the back-to-back golds he won in Rio.
“I’ve always wanted to have children before I finished my career so they can see for themselves what I actually did,” added Whitlock.
“I’d love to give her the experience of taking her around the arena. They are experiences she will not get anywhere else. If she can be my little cheerleader that would be absolutely fantastic.”
Ellie Downie made a significant statement as she came from behind to clinch victory in the women’s all-around competition.
But she believes she is now on track to contend for medals at Tokyo 2020 after winning with a combined score of 56.0 from her four apparatus.
Downie said: “I finally feel like I’m back to where I need to be.
“Going to the worlds last year was about getting back out there but this was the first time I’ve put all my skills back in one competition so I’m really chuffed with that.”
Downie recovered from sitting in third place after the penultimate piece of apparatus to take gold with a strong final vault of 14.75.
It knocked her Great Britain team-mate Kelly Simm into silver medal position on 55.050 with 15-year-old Amelie Morgan, in only her second major senior competition, taking bronze with 54.8.
James Hall dominated the men’s all-around competition to take the gold medal ahead of Giarnni Regini-Moran.
An excellent high bar routine was the highlight from the 23-year-old who totalled 84.85 over six apparatus, comfortably beating his closest rival’s 81.65.
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