Whitlock wins historic gold for Britain on pommel horse

Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:18pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

GLASGOW (Reuters) - Max Whitlock finally ended Britain's 112-year wait for a men's gold medalist at the gymnastics world championships when he edged out team mate Louis Smith by the narrowest of margins with a smooth and silky pommel horse performance on Saturday.

The failure of Hungary's Olympic and 2014 world champion Krisztian Berki to qualify for the final raised hopes that Smith might finally land the gold as he had been the top performer in qualifying.

Smith produced a flawless display and sat on top of the standings with 16.033 until Whitlock, the final competitor on the horse, leapfrogged the Olympic silver medalist by just 0.1 of a point with a more dynamic program that sparked jubilant celebrations among the hollering crowd at the Hydro Arena.

Traveling down and rotating around the block, Whitlock showed off his rigidly straight body lines and when he nailed his dismount, Smith was on his feet with the rest of the crowd.

The British duo stood shoulder-to-shoulder as they waited for Whitlock's score to come up and when the giant screen confirmed that it was the 22-year-old who was number one, Smith grabbed a Union Jack to begin the double celebration.

"It has been a tough year with glandular fever at the beginning of the year and this literally makes up for everything," a beaming Whitlock, who was hugged by Smith when he came off the competition area, told reporters.

"I am just absolutely over the moon. I am speechless. I can't believe it."

Smith, who won Britain's version of Dancing With the Stars during a two-year break from the sport after the London Olympics, was not surprised by the judges' verdict.   Continued...

Britain's Max Whitlock competes on the parallel bars during the men's all-around final at the World Gymnastics Championships at the Hydro arena in Glasgow, Scotland, October 30, 2015. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne