Over the last few days, it is safe to say that Britain was glued to their television screens by the utterly superhuman skills of the men’s artistic gymnastics.
Max Whitlock, 23, became Great Britain’s first all-round men’s gymnastics medallist in 108 years after claiming bronze just behind Japan’s Kohei Uchimura and Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev. The top of the leaders table was desperately close as Whitlock bounced between bronze and silver whilst managing to hold off Russia’s Belyavskiy who finished in fourth position, just 0.143 points behind Whitlock. Gold medallist Uchimura just about managed to retain his all-round title, but only after an undeniably strong test to retain his Olympic gold. Verniaiev followed him closely, finishing a staggering 0.099 points behind.
The sheer quality of skill on the leader board justifies just how far gymnastics has come in Britain over recent years as Whitlock took British Gymnastics into a place it had not been in over a century.
Beth Tweddle, London 2012 bronze medallist, commented that Whitlock held his nerve. The competition was so tough… He was up first so he set the bar and then just had to sit and wait”. Despite the inability of the team to live up to London 2012’s bronze medal in the group events, Whitlock did not let the disappointment of Wednesday affect his individual performance, allowing himself to add to his ever-growing collection of world games medals. At London 2012 he closely followed team-mate Louis Smith in the men’s pommel horse where Smith claimed silver and Whitlock bronze.
Unfortunately, Smith’s fall in his pommel horse routine guaranteed the loss of a team bronze at Rio as they were quickly bumped off the medal table. Pipped by China as Japan and Russia took gold and silver, there was no coming back after Smith’s mistake.
It seems that the only way is forward for Max Whitlock as he proves himself to be Britain’s greatest all-round living gymnast. Who knows what the young Briton has in store for Tokyo 2020.