A YEAR on from the heralded home Olympics Games and Max Whitlock says he still has to pinch himself when he thinks about his dream medal showing and subsequent national acclaim.
The London 2012 double bronze medallist admits the experience changed his life and revealed he takes so much pleasure from seeing the huge positive impact his success has had on gymnastics participation in south Essex.
“I still actually can’t believe it happened,” said Whitlock.
“The whole Games was a huge success and getting the results we got in the gymnastics was just a dream.
“I really do believe it was a one-off lifetime opportunity for all of us because it was a home Games and the support we got was unbelievable.
“I’m just hoping now that if I keep training hard I will get another Olympic experience in Rio.”
Whitlock was given a hero’s welcome at his training base at the Basildon Sporting Village after London 2012, and he continues to put himself through a punishing schedule of gymnastics every day as he bids to stay at the top of the sport in the country.
But he acknowledges in his customary humble way that his medal-winning performance last summer has single-handedly turned his club into an Olympics legacy success story, and says it’s something he takes enormous pride from.
In the wake of Whitlock’s showing at London 2012, the South Essex Gymnastics Club hired three new coaches and created 160 places to cope with the demand from new members.
Whitlock said: “It feels amazing to know that I have helped my club in that way, and to know that people want to come to our gym because they have watched me in the Olympics. We have a year’s waiting list on the gym still and it is exactly what we need.”