Whitlock The Workhorse: Practising Pommel Perfection

Max Whitlock pommel horse

Doing ‘The Whitlock’ could soon be a phrase associated with gymnastics fans across the world. Even if it isn’t, the sport will certainly be enjoying some innovate and powerful new routines on the pommel horse. For five-time Olympic and World gold medallist, Max Whitlock has gone back to the springing board in search of the spectacular.

Taking Time Out

Having withdrawn from competition until September, the Basildon based athlete certainly hasn’t been taking a breather. Far from it. In fact, he’s working hard to produce the most amazing routine possible. He said: “It’s about creating something that shocks people. “There are two I am thinking of now. One would be a big, big move. It would probably change the pommel quite a bit if I can do it, but it’s very dangerous at the same time. If I miss with my hand I will land on my face. So I need to progress it really slowly and make sure it’s right. I want something that has never been performed – nor even imagined – by any of my rivals.  That’s why I wanted to give myself this time away from competition.”

He won both the men’s floor and pommel horse exercises at the 2016 Summer Olympics. With ten medals and three titles in Olympic and world championships, Whitlock is the most successful gymnast in his nation’s history.

Max added: “The floor routine I show on stage will hopefully have four new tumbles out of five. So that’s another big job and I can’t rush it. There are only two G-level skills at the moment on the pommel horse [which means a difficulty value of 0.70], and I am hoping this would be a third. The other one, the dangerous one, might be the first H [or 0.80] on this apparatus. You are only credited with a skill when you pull it off at one of the two biggest events: world championships or an Olympics, but I’d love to have a move named after me.”

Training Media Ban

As you might expect, cameras and mobiles are banned from South Essex Gymnastics Club when he is testing out these new manoeuvres. So many things appear on Youtube these days, he just can’t afford to take any chances. And of course, one slight mishap could result in injury, which is why he’s taking it slowly.

Even bringing into play a soft introduction at a domestic meet could give the game away. Every athlete takes a long hard look at their routine after the Olympics, as it’s all part of the cycle. He added: “I heard of one competition a long time ago where there were four people trying to do a Tkachev on high bar. “It depended on what apparatus you started on, who had the chance to do it first. If the order had been different, we would call the Tkachev by a different name.”

The points code is amended every four years offering a higher or lower value for certain moves. This is to ensure old routines are taken apart and recombined into new shapes. Max Whitlock was the first British man to win a World Gymnastics title, winning a Gold medal on the Pommel and a Silver medal in the Floor competition.

He became part of the history-making team who became the first British men’s team to win a World Silver medal. As one of the sport’s finest exponents, Max is a great role model.  Alongside his continued gymnastics success, Max is a supporter of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Charity Redevelopment Appeal and an ambassador for Paul Smith, Adidas, Weston Homes, Nissan and DFS.

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