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Max Whitlock set gold medal target for Rio 2016 by his coach Scott Hann
SCOTT Hann said he’ll tell Britain’s new gymnastics superstar Max Whitlock that his next target is clear – Olympic gold in four years time.
Hann, who’s coached the 19-year-old into a double Olympic bronze medallist, said it was right for everyone to now be tipping the teenager for great things in Rio.
“I’ll be telling him his target now has to be an all-round gold medal in Brazil,” said Hann.
“He’s shown he can perform on the greatest stage here in London, and he should hit his peak four years from now.
“It will mean a lot of hard work, but he has the ability to aim that high, so that’s what we’ll do.”
Whitlock, a member of the South Essex Gymnastics Club, which is based at the Basildon Sporting Village in Gloucester Park, confirmed his status as a new British sporting star yesterday by adding individual pommel bronze to the bronze he’d already claimed in last weekend’s team event.
Hann admitted he’d uncharacteristically almost been reduced to tears by the achievement and said he’d screamed himself hoarse as he cheered Whitlock on as part of the 15,000-strong crowd at the North Greenwich Arena.
“I’m usually down on the floor, so it was hard to sit there in the audience,” said Hann, who is involved in the Team GB set-up, but not named as one of their Olympic coaches.
“But I had faith in Max and he did not let me down. “That was his best-ever performance on the pommel horse, and to perform like that at the Olympics is staggering really.
“I was definitely more nervous than him. Max was born with those ice-cold nerves and that is why he is such a great competitor.
“Once he posted his score (15.600) I knew he’d medal. “I expected Smith and Berki to fight it out for gold — but I knew Max would be on the podium.”
Great Britain captain Louis Smith had to settle for silver despite finishing on exactly the same score (16.066) as Hungarian Krisztian Berki, who took gold because he had a harder starting score for his routine.
Smith has been a poster boy for London 2012 after winning a bronze medal at Beijing Olympics four years ago, and Hann said there is no reason why Whitlock can’t impact in Rio.
He said: “Max now has an opportunity to get to the very top of this sport. He will be 23 when the Olympics are held in Brazil, and if he keeps progressing the way he has been, he could be the one to lead from the front for Great Britain.”
Hann revealed that South Essex club chairman Roy Short had driven to the North Greenwich Arena —despite not having a ticket to watch the action — to make sure there was a bottle of Champagne on ice for everyone once the competition had concluded.
Hann said: “This has all been possible because we have so many people at our club who work hard to support each other.
“Now that it is over Max will have a chance to rest and spend time with his family, and I will too.
“Our families have been so supportive as we’ve travelled around the world in competitions to get to this point, and I could not have done it without the support of my wife Jamie-Leigh . I can’t wait to spend some time with her now and my baby girl Olivia.”