THE first gold medal has arrived for south-east Essex at these Commonwealth Games.

Basildon-based Max Whitlock helped England come out on top in the team gymnastics final.

But the entertaining session of gymnastics was also incredibly confusing.

You see, England battled against Scotland before claiming the gold medal in front of an engrossed audience. Yet, a few hours later, came two more sub-divisions of competition for the teams lower down the standings.

Using football to explain, it would be a bit like having the final at mid-day before playing a fifth and sixth placed play-off after the showpiece event had finished. It meant the English team had to wait several hours before getting their medals.

Quite what those organising the time-table thought it may achieve I have no idea.

But it made it incredibly confusing with those in attendance not quite sure whether or not they could actually say they had seen England win gold as near perfect, faultless performances from their rivals could still have denied them a place on the top of the podium.

However, what perhaps confused me even more was the lack of media interest in Max.

I may be biased as he trains in Basildon and regularly features in the back pages of the Echo. But he was so instrumental in yesterday’s triumph and is a firm favourite for further medals this week.

Despite all that though, most reporters still flocked to Louis Smith at the end of the competition.

Whitlock, a seemingly far shyer character, spoke eloquently to those who did want to talk to him, but he seems to relish the competition far more than the camera.

It seems as though the youngster is also keen for his talent to do most of his talking.

And that must suit him just fine as, on current form and standings, Max could end these Games as one of the most successful competitors, which would see him receive the recognition his talent deserves.

Even battles are crowd-pleasers


Badminton - another crowd pleaser

BEING at the games I have been trying to get around to as many sports as possible.

Yesterday I attended the badminton for the first time and it ended up being very entertaining.

So too was the rugby sevens I attended at Ibrox, but both of them were plagued by some very one-sided matches.

The Commonwealth Games welcomes a wide range of standards and who doesn’t love cheering on the guy battling bravely on the track or in the pool?

But it doesn’t quite work so well in team competitions and can sometimes lower the excitement and entertainment before the bigger teams come up against each other.

Feeling Scottish warmth

I KNOW Scottish people traditionally don’t like the English, but my view on our hosts differs from what may be considered the norm.


Good reception - Libby Clegg and her guide

Volunteers and members of the general public have been incredibly helpful and the support for their athletes has been superb.

The noise levels for Libby Clegg winning the T12 100m at Hampden Park on Monday night and the subsequent singing of the national anthem was like nothing I had ever heard before.

This is only my third time in Scotland and, although I have no real affiliation to them, except when Andy Murray plays at Wimbledon, the atmosphere still gave me goosebumps and almost brought a lump to my throat.

Just don’t tell any of my friends I admitted to that!