SOUTH Essex Gymnastics Club duo Max Whitlock and Brinn Bevan have been in fine form at the World Championships in Doha.

Whitlock returned to his imperious best in Doha with a pommel performance that suggested an unprecedented third consecutive world title is within his grasp.

And Bevan was also in fine form to make the all around final.

Whitlock, who lives in Basildon, comfortably out-stripped his major rivals in qualifying, including Ireland's Rhys McClenaghan, who fell twice, to score a superb 14.966 and indicate he is ready to put a year of relative disappointment behind him.

It was quite a statement from Whitlock, who not only failed to take gold at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, but had only minutes earlier fallen short again with his floor routine.

Whitlock was also competing for the first time in major senior competition without his long-time coach and close friend Scott Hann, who had stayed at home for personal reasons.

Whitlock said: "I felt a lot of relief after my pommel routine. This year hasn't gone fully to plan but it's been about looking at the bigger picture.

"Also, it was the first time since 2013 that Scott hasn't been on the floor with me. It felt weird, strange and gutting, but hopefully from now on we will be able to work together again."

Victory for Whitlock next Friday, following his previous successes in Glasgow in 2015 and Montreal last year, would make him the first British gymnast to win three back-to-back world crowns.

The 25-year-old's timely return to form will not have escaped the notice of his rivals, with so many having struggled on the apparatus this week, including McClenaghan, whose score of 11.066 saw his challenge abruptly end.