Whitlock shepherds Britain along path of success

Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:46pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) - When Max Whitlock ended Britain's 112-year hunt for a men's gymnastics champion at the 2015 world championships with his dynamic leg-work over the pommel horse, he had no idea that he would earn an unexpected bonus along with the gold medal.

"I can walk sheep across my local town center. I was awarded the freedom of the borough (after my win) and that’s one of the things you can do," the 23-year-old from Hertfordshire told Reuters in an interview in the run-up to the Rio Olympics.

"Just need to get some sheep!"

While acquiring a woolly flock is not high on Whitlock's priority list, what he really wants is to make sure Britain do not face another century-long wait before landing another gold medal at a major gymnastics competition.

"It's a massive honor for me to be the first British man to win a world championship title. Britain have been close before and we’ve been gradually improving since 2012, closing the gap on the rest of the world," said Whitlock, who scooped two bronze medals at the 2012 Olympics.

"We’ve got some amazing gymnasts in our team... and I don’t think it’ll be the last world title a British man wins in gymnastics."

Whitlock is one of several British athletes who benefited from the extra cash injected into Olympic sports once London won the right to host the 2012 Games.

That monetary boost, along with hours of dedication in the gym, propelled Whitlock and his band of British brothers to their first Olympic men's team medal at the London Games -- a bronze -- since 1912.   Continued...

Gymnastics - British Gymnastics Championships - Liverpool, Britain - 10/4/2016 - Max Whitlock performs during the Rings final. REUTERS/Andrew Yates