DOUBLE Olympic bronze star Max Whitlock returned to Basildon’s Sporting Village on Thursday – and went home with a horse!
The 2012 Games gymnastics hero was given a brand new £2,000 pommel horse in recognition of his achievement last year.
Whitlock had surprised and delighted team Great Britain bosses by scooping not one but two bronzes against the world’s best at the Olympics.
And Whitlock admitted that having his own brand new piece of his favourite equipment was a personal dream – especially as his last horse was a battered one he’d bought from his school for just £15.
The golden boy of British gymnastics said receiving the personalised new kit from equipment manufacturer Gymnova – which supplied all the Olympic gymnastics kit for 2012 – had come out of the blue.
The super-fit teenager was at the Village at Gloucester Park shooting stills for the Gymnova’s 2013 advertising and promotional campaign.
He said: “It’s the first time I’ve had a pommel horse with my name emblazoned down the side!
“I never thought I would see that!
“And it’s a great horse too. I’ll be taking it home and using it there. But I’ll also be taking it with me round the country for promotional stuff.
“The last horse I owned I bought it off my old school for about £15. “It was pretty old and they were chucking it out – so I asked if I could buy it and they said yes. “But it was really battered and I have no idea how old it was!”
Gymnova managing director Phillip Wattleworth, who made the presentation said Whitlock represented the face of the new breed of successful British gym stars.
He said: “We made the horse specially for Max as our way of saying thanks. Like the other British team members he’s helped change the way people look at gymnastics in this country. They now see these strong young men and see that gymnastics can be for everyone.
“And it’s great to deal with such fine young men who are a credit to themselves and their sport.”
He also admitted that Whitlock’s image may well end up on the company’s huge delivery and promotional vehicles. Whitlock’s trainer Scott Hann, who was at the presentation with his young 17-month-old daughter Olivia, said he was pleased the youngster was reaping the rewards of his dedication.
“Max has earned this. It’s been a fantastic time for him and I’m glad he’s got such good links with major companies in gymnastics.”