MAX Whitlock says he’s starting to dream about stepping out to compete at the home Olympics after he helped Great Britain’s gymnastics team to qualify for this year’s London Games.

The south Essex gymnast was in the form of his life as he made his senior GB debut in front of a packed home crowd at the London Olympic test event at the O2 Arena.

It was the biggest test so far in the career of the Commonwealth silver medalist, who makes the hour-long drive from his home in Hemel Hempstead to train six days a week at the state-of-the-art facilities at the Basildon Sporting Village in Cranes Farm Road.

And he certainly rose to the challenge with solid performances on all six pieces of apparatus, including the best GB performance on the pommel horse, even beating Olympic bronze medalist Louis Smith by a point with an excellent routine of 15.233.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Whitlock, who turns 19 tomorrow. “It was the loudest arena I have ever been to, and the buzz among the crowd made it such a incredible atmosphere and a great competition.

“It was an Olympic test event so it should be quite similar to how it will be at the Games.

“And if the support is going to be like that then it would be a dream to compete in London.”

The team of Daniel Purvis, Daniel Keatings, Smith, Whitlock, Kristian Thomas and Ruslan Panteleymonov dominated proceedings to finish first with a total of 358.227 ahead of France on 350.659, Spain with 347.292 and Italy on 346.334.

They competed in the third and final subdivision of the day, having watched the French set the benchmark score earlier.

It means Britain has qualified a full team place of five gymnasts for the Olympics for the first time since 1992 in Barcelona.

Whitlock said: “It was such a good feeling afterwards. Everyone played their part and did good routines so now we need to focus on the Olympics.

“It was a target of mine to do well on the pommels. I have been working very hard on that in training, so I was delighted to make the finals of that.

“Now there are five places available for the Olympics, so now I have got to get back in the gym and get my routines as clean and consistent as I can and hopefully I can get myself into that team.”

The team’s technical director Eddie Van Hoof said it was a “huge relief” to qualify for the Olympics after their failure to do so at the World Championships in Tokyo in September.

He said: “The boys had something to prove after the disappointment of Tokyo, and they excelled themselves. They have put a huge amount of work in over the Christmas period and it’s great to see that all pay off, and we can now look really positively ahead to the Games.”