Max Whitlock is relishing the opportunity to be part of a new golden era for British gymnastics in the wake of a record-breaking medal haul from the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool.
Jessica Gadirova’s gold in the women’s floor final on Sunday took the hosts’ final tally to six, after Giarnni Regini-Moran also took gold in the men’s floor the previous day.
And Whitlock, who has turned his focus to the 2024 Olympics after taking a break from the sport through 2022, sees no reason why the team should not go on to eclipse the seven medals they won at the Rio Games in 2016.
“I don’t want to put more pressure on the team for Paris but I don’t think you can get away from the fact that we’ve just come away from the World Championships with six medals,” Whitlock told the PA news agency.
“It is a little bit different coping with the Olympics, but I think both these teams have proved that they can perform under pressure. I think we could go into Paris with the most medal chances that we’ve ever had.”
Whitlock hailed the emergence of the Gadirova twins, with 18-year-old Jessica leaving Liverpool with three medals, including her historic floor gold which concluded the women’s competition on Sunday.
Gadirova was part of the women’s team who clinched a surprise bronze medal in Tokyo, and also won back-to-back European floor golds, but Whitlock believes her bulging medal cabinet is secondary to the impact she is already having in raising the profile of her sport.
“There is so much room for them (the Gadirova twins) to grow as gymnasts and I think what is exciting is that they bring a new energy to the team that has a really positive impact,” added Whitlock.
“When young gymnasts see that sort of enjoyment and the way they dance their way between apparatus, I think that impact is crazy, especially with what the sport has been through in recent years.
“Sometimes when young kids are sitting in the audience, seeing girls and guys loving what they are doing has a bigger impact than winning medals, and when they can do both it really does get inspiring.”
Whitlock is back training on the pommel as he targets a third straight Olympic gold medal in Paris, and is targeting a comeback in domestic and European events next year.
“Last year has been a rollercoaster for me,” said Whitlock, who has spoken candidly about his desire to protect his mental health by taking a break after his historic second triumph in Tokyo.
“But it has been massively encouraging for me to watch this World Championships, and it has just motivated me to get back in and have those goals and targets towards making more history.”