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Max Whitlock is relishing the “surreal” prospect of heading to his third Olympics after being confirmed in the four-man Great Britain team for the rearranged Games in Tokyo.
The 28-year-old, who scooped double gold in Rio in 2016, is the most experienced member of a squad that also includes fellow world champion Joe Fraser, Giarnni Regini-Moran and James Hall.
The women’s team announcement has been pushed back in order to extend a further qualification opportunity to Becky Downie, who missed the final trials following the tragic death of her brother earlier this month.
Whitlock said: “To think this will be my third Olympic Games is very surreal. We have a great team and I’m really looking forward to going to Tokyo.
“Sport is something that is so powerful when it comes to bringing people together, creating conversations and bringing out people’s passions. I’m hoping this will be an event to do just that at a time when I believe we have never wanted it more.”
Whitlock, who crashed out in the heats at the European Championships in Switzerland last month, will reserve his sole individual focus for defending his pommel title, but will also compete in a number of other apparatus in order to maximise the chances of team success.
The 22-year-old Fraser is looking to build on his shock world gold medal on the parallel bars at the 2019 World Championship, while selection for Regini-Moran caps a remarkable comeback from a career-threatening injury shortly before the Rio Olympics in 2016, which left him fearing his career was over.
Regini-Moran said: “For me I think it means even more after my injury in 2016, all that hard work, grit and determination that goes into coming back, and now to have that rewarded with the biggest sporting event on the planet is a dream.”
Downie completed a behind-closed-doors trial last week and selectors are set to meet to determine whether she has done enough to earn a place in the four-strong women’s squad for the Games.
Downie and her sister Ellie had been due to take part in the final trial in Cardiff earlier this month when news came through of the sudden death of their brother Josh. Ellie Downie elected not to continue with the selection process.
Team GB chef de mission Mark England said: “I am very confident that every opportunity has been extended to Becky and I know there is great empathy and sympathy for her situation, not just from the performance director and the coaches involved, but also from the other gymnasts who went through the qualifying.
“We are hoping we will be in a position to select the women’s team within a fortnight or so, and we are working through that the moment.”