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Max Whitlock highlights all-round talent at nationals
MAX Whitlock staked his claim to be an all-round star for Great Britain with a brilliant win at the English Championships.
The 20-year-old is now in pole position for one of six spots at the European Championships after becoming national champion at the Europa Centre in Kent.
His South Essex club-mate Reiss Beckford also put himself in contention for a place on the GB team in Moscow in April after picking up the silver medal.
Whitlock shot to national fame with two bronze medals at London 2012, and returned to action with a stellar all-round winning score of 89.400 on Saturday.
Beckford’s 87.100 gave him the runner-up spot, and Sam Oldham – part of GB’s bronze-medal winning team at London 2012 – came third with 86.333. Another Olympic hero, Dan Purvis, scored the second-best score of the day behind Whitlock (87.568), but it did not count towards podium places because he is Scottish.
“I’m confident Max will be in the European team after that and he’s in a very strong position to be considered as an all-rounder, which is beyond the expectations we had going into the weekend,” said South Essex’s director of coaching, Scott Hann.
“Dan Purvis dropped one point on the floor, but Max was still two points clear of him, so his win was no fluke. It is a very exciting time for him.
“There will now be a controlled competition in Lilleshall next week and then the British Championships (March 22-24) before a final decision is taken about European selection.
“But this is a big step in the right direction for Max and for Reiss, and it would be great for our club to have two members on the GB team.”
Whitlock won on his specialist piece the pommel with a whopping 15.967 score, and also achieved his aim of top-spot on the floor (15.000). He was also second on the rings (14.800) and the parallel bars (15.033).
Beckford won on the vault (14.733), claimed a runner-up spot on the high bar (14.867), and was third on rings (14.733) and floor (14.600).
Hann said: “Reiss’ target was to go there and not fault in his six routines – which he did.
“He also carried out a successful high-bar routine, which is what we wanted.
“We just need to clean up a few areas because he is just on the cusp of selection – and he needs to make it hard for them not to select him.”
South Essex gym stars take opportunity to shine
* MAX Whitlock and Reiss Beckford’s performances were the icing on the cake for the South Essex club, which claimed 15 medals at the English Championships.
Brinn Bevan acquitted himself very well in the senior competition with a score of 78.666 from six disciplines, with his best individual mark a 14.533 on parallel bars.
Coach Scott Hann said: “Brinn made mistakes on the floor and pommels, but overall he was fantastic and I’m delighted with how he did.
“He’s 15 and competing against many 18-year-olds, so he is a real prospect.”
South Essex’s Anthony Wise competed in the senior competition and scored 69.167 on five apparatus, with his best performance a 14.600 on vault.
Hann said: “This was Anthony’s first competition in over a year because of injury and other things, so for him to perform like that is very pleasing.”
In the junior competition, South Essex’s Hayden Skinner finished with an all-round mark of 72.1665, while Dominic Sesto’s best showing was 13.467 on vault.
Nathan Adams 12.100 on the vault was the best of his six pieces in the boys age group competition, in which South Essex’s Douglas Turnball also competed.
Josephine Tang was South Essex’s top junior girl with 45.550, and Karis Maskell scored 43.500 on her competition debut.