Whitlock pommel victory brings double golden Sunday for Team GB


ax Whitlock’s successful defence of his Olympic pommel horse title made it a doubly golden Sunday for Team GB in Japan. The 28-year-old gymnast from Hertfordshire became a six-time Olympic medallist as his young daughter and wider family watched from home. His mother Madeleine Whitlock said she was “so proud” of her son, describing him as “my champion”.

Whitlock topped the podium after former cook Charlotte Worthington secured gold for Team GB in the BMX freestyle earlier in the day. Sunday’s successes brings Team GB’s medal tally so far in the Tokyo games to 32, with 10 golds, 10 silvers and 12 bronzes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed Whitlock’s victory, tweeting: “Congratulations @maxwhitlock1! Another fantastic result for @TeamGB”

Later on Sunday evening, Team GB’s BMX racing stars Beth Shriever and Kye Whyte, who won gold and silver respectively, were welcomed back to the UK. The pair posed with their medals at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5, with Shriever receiving a bunch of flowers, a kiss and embrace from boyfriend Brynley Savage. Whyte, who was also greeted by family and friends, showed off his silver medal alongside proud parents Nigel and Tracey.

Gold medal winning BMX rider Bethany Shriever is met by her boyfriend Brynley Savage on her return to the UK (Steve Parsons/PA) / PA Wire

A pommel gold medallist at the Rio games in 2016, Whitlock has since married his childhood sweetheart Leah and welcomed now two-year-old Willow into the world.

Shortly before his win in Japan, his wife shared a photo on Twitter of their daughter sitting alongside her cousins ready to watch her father compete on TV.

In an interview with the BBC Willow sent the message: “See you soon… well done Dad.”

Whitlock pommel victory brings double golden Sunday for Team GBKye Whyte at Heathrow Airport with his parents Nigel and Tracey (Steve Parsons/PA) / PA Wire

Leah later tweeted after her husband’s win: “We are so unbelievably proud of you @maxwhitlock1 “You did the most amazing routine going up first and under so much pressure and you went for it. Just amazing.

We can’t wait to see you! We love you so much!!” She also posted video clips of her husband’s family celebrating his win.

Whitlock, who threw down an early gauntlet to his competitors by going first on the pommel, said he felt “absolutely lost for words” and “completely overwhelmed” after his win. He told the BBC that defending his title had been “a million times harder” than winning it for the first time in Rio, adding: “This is probably the most pressured environment I’ve ever been in.” Whitlock hailed Team GB’s ongoing successes and said: “The gold medals have been flowing in and I just wanted to do the same thing and to come out here and get my own.

I feel very proud.” He reflected on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, adding: “Just over a year ago we were stuck in our homes so it’s been (a) crazy, crazy journey to come from there to this, and make the most of it, from pommel horsing in my garden to Olympic gold medal.”

Whitlock pommel victory brings double golden Sunday for Team GBGreat Britain’s Charlotte Worthington in action (Mike Egerton/PA) / PA Wire

Earlier on Sunday, Worthington, from Manchester, landed the first-ever 360 backflip to be performed in women’s BMX freestyle competition, having worked in a Mexican restaurant as she trained for this year’s Games. The 25-year-old’s gold was followed by a bronze for Declan Brooks in the men’s freestyle while a British quartet won a silver in the last swimming event in the pool, the 4×100 men’s medley.

Worthington fell in her first run but landed a front flip and a huge backflip on her way to a first-place finish, with Britain’s most successful female Olympic track cyclist Laura Kenny saying: “I think that’s one of my favourite ever Olympic golds!” Her former manager at the Racconto Lounge in Bury, Jordan Carter, told the PA news agency: “I feel really proud of her.” Worthington’s mother Sarah told Times Radio the win was “a bit like a dream really”, while Zoe Morris, headteacher of Chorlton High School where Worthington was a pupil, tweeted the performance was “inspirational”.

Brooks’ and Worthington’s medals means Team GB finished on the podium in all four BMX competitions in Tokyo.

Whitlock pommel victory brings double golden Sunday for Team GBGreat Britain’s (left-right) Duncan Scott, Luke Greenbank, James Guy and Adam Peaty after winning the silver medal in the men’s 4x100m medley relay (Joe Giddens/PA) / PA Wire

Meanwhile, in the pool, Duncan Scott won a record fourth medal at the Games with a silver in the medley relay alongside Luke Greenbank, James Guy, and Adam Peaty.

Scott’s coach Steve Tigg said he had “always been special” as he touted the swimmer as one of Scotland’s greatest-ever athletes.