Max Whitlock hopes his toughest ever pommel horse routine will reap golden reward at European Championships

Echo: Take a break — (l-r) Max Whitlock, Jay Thompson, coach Scott Hann, and Brinn Bevan take a breather from European Championship preparations at South Essex Gymnastics Club Take a break — (l-r) Max Whitlock, Jay Thompson, coach Scott Hann, and Brinn Bevan take a breather from European Championship preparations at South Essex Gymnastics Club

GYMNAST Max Whitlock hopes his hardest ever pommel horse routine can secure him more success in the European Championships this week.

The double Olympic bronze medalist has won gold at the last two Europeans.

And the 21-year-old is now gunning for more glory in Sofia.

“I’ve got some new moves I’m going to be trying out on the pommel and it’s taken my difficulty rating up to 7.4 which is the highest I’ve ever had,” said Whitlock.

“I’ve been trying it out in training and it’s been going OK, so hopefully it will in competition as well because it’s another important competition for me.

“I obviously want to help the team do well in that competition and I also want to make as many finals as I can individually and hopefully win a medal.”

Whitlock, who trains at Basildon’s South Essex Gymnastics Club, won team gold at the 2012 Europeans and came out on top on the floor a year later.

He also took silver in the all-round event and bronze on the pommel.

Adding to that, he won silver in the same event in the World Championships last year.

But Whitlock is now used to dealing with the added expectancy levels now surrounding his performances.

“I still feel the same as I did before I won any of the medals and it’s a great feeling when people know your name,” said Whitlock.

“I’ve been working very hard with my coach (Scott Hann) so I’m confident about being able to do well.”

Whitlock flew out to Bulgaria on Saturday for the first of three major championships he hopes to compete in this year.

The youngster also has the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships to contend with.

And all of them will be crucial in his build up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

“We do have plenty of championships every year in gymnastics but this is a busy year and an important one too,” said Whitlock.

“But right now all I’m thinking about is the Europeans and it’s great for us as a club to have Brinn (Bevan) and Jay (Thompson) coming out as part of the junior squad as well.”

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