Each day this week, we’ll focus on one of our five athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games, today CHRIS PHILLIPS speaks to Olympic gymnastic medalist Max Whitlock.
MAX Whitlock is looking forward to a busy Commonwealth Games.
He gets under way on Monday (July 28) when he joins England team-mates Louis Smith, Sam Oldham, Nile Wilson and Kristian Thomas in the team final which also includes qualification for the individual finals. The team qualification takes place over two days, Monday and Tuesday.
The all-round final takes place a day later and if, as expected, Whitlock makes the individual finals, he will be in action on Thursday, July 31, in the floor and pommel finals.
MAX Whitlock is gunning for more glory at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
But if things had worked out slightly differently he could well have been aiming for medals in the pool and not on a pommel horse.
Whitlock has won a whole host of medals at major events, including two bronzes at the 2012 Olympics in London.
However, it was as a swimmer that Whitlock first shone in sport.
“When I was young it was swimming that I did first, mainly because of my brother,” said the 21-year-old.
“It was through doing that I got in to gymnastics because a friend of mine there suggested I should go and try it.
“I did them both for a while but when I got to the age of nine I had to pick one of them and I went for gymnastics.
“I’m quite happy I made the right decision now.”
Three years after focusing on just gymnastics for the first time, Whitlock met Scott Hann who is now his full time coach at Basildon’s South Essex Gym Club.
The duo have worked wonders between them to secure some remarkable results.
And Whitlock is hoping for more of them in Scotland.
“The Commonwealth Games means a lot so I want to do well again,” stressed Whitlock.
“I went to the last Commonwealth Games in 2010 in Delhi in India and it was my first time being in a senior competition and it’s the only other competition along with the Olympics that’s a multi-sport event.
“We stay in a village and get the atmosphere there. The experience you gain from the Commonwealths is massive.
“It’s a fun, feel-good competition and it will be good to compare Scotland with Delhi and see what another Commonwealth Games is like.
“Hopefully I can do just as well as before, if not better.”
Last time around Whitlock won three medals – pommel horse and team silver as well as horizontal bar bronze.
In Glasgow he is aiming for gold but his main rivals are likely to come from the host nation Scotland, as well as in his own England team.
And Whitlock is relishing the competition from those familiar faces.
“There’s a friendly rivalry with us all,” said Whitlock.
“I’ve trained with them for many years now, since we were young boys, and there’s such respect among us all.
“There’s been a bit of banter already but we will all be going out there wanting each other to do well.
“There will be no viciousness and hopefully it will feel like a home competition, with the crowd not only supporting Scotland but supporting England as well.”
After the Commonwealths, the British gymnasts will again be teaming up for glory.
And Whitlock, who has won three European golds as well as world silver, is already planning for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“Everything is being geared towards the Olympics and that remains my biggest aim,” said Whitlock.
“But the Commonwealth Games is another stepping stone towards them. I want to get the best results I can and feel in shape to do so.”
We’re asking all of our Commonwealth Games athletes, eight quick-fire questions.
1) WHO OR WHAT GOT YOU INTO THE SPORT?
When I was young I was a swimmer because my brother was a swimmer too. A friend from that club said I should come along and try gymnastics, so I did. When I was nine I had to commit to one of the sports. I’m happy I chose gymnastics.
2) WHAT WOULD BE THE LAST SONG YOU LISTEN TO BEFORE YOU COMPETE?
To be honest I don’t have one. Before a competition I like to get used to listening to the atmosphere of the arena.
3) WHAT OTHER SPORT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE GOOD AT?
I would like to try a motor sport, not sure which one but something that really gets your adrenaline going.
4) WHAT SUPERSTITIONS DO YOU HAVE?
I don’t really have any. I just like to keep to the same routine.
5) WHO IS YOUR HERO?
There is a gymnast who really inspires me, his name is Kohei Uchimura from Japan. In my opinion, he is the best gymnast there has ever been.
6) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PRE-COMPETITION MEAL?
I like anything healthy really. Something like pasta, meat and vegetables.
7) WHAT ‘BAD FOODS’ CAN’T YOU RESIST?
On the lead up to a competition I am quite strict and focused on just eating healthy. I’m actually quite good at resisting unhealthy foods as I know I can pig out after the competition.
8) WHAT OTHER SPORT WOULD YOU LIKE TO WATCH AT THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES?
I would like to see a boxing final, I’m sure the atmosphere in the arena will be amazing.