“It’s my dream to get my name in the code of points”
Representing England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia, double Olympic champion Max Whitlock decided just to compete on his two specialist events, floor and pommel horse. I spoke to him before the competition started. 29 March 2018
There has been some speculation in the Australian press about a fantastic new move you are planning on the pommel horse. Can you tell us about that?
“If we’re talking about the Whitlock, it’s not ready yet, I’m obviously gutted about that, but it’s going to take a long, long time. It’s still my dream to get my name in the code of points and to have the Whitlock in there. But it needs to be fully ready, because you need to perform it at a major championships – but it’s just not ready.
Have you changed your difficulty level since the last world championships?
It’s similar to my last world championships routine, but I’ve got the option of upgrading, from a 6.8 to a 7 start. I’ll decide what I want to do. I want to keep pushing, I want to keep trying to make sure I retain a high start value, because if I do that, the potential is to retain the title, and that’s a huge motivation for me. So I want to go through a clean routine.
The Commonwealth Games sees a variety of smaller nations competing – who do you think are the likely medal contenders?
For the individual pieces you’ve got England and Scotland, who I know are very strong because I train with those guys and I know exactly what they are doing. Then you’ve got Canada, they’re pretty strong, and Australia will be good. There’ll be individuals in other countries that will really try and push through. People that you might not have seen before, or might be trying some big skills and it might pay off. So I’m not too sure, I don’t like to watch too much of what other people are doing. I just try and focus on my job. If I’m happy with what I’m doing, and I’ve pushed it to the limit, then I can’t do anything more.
Max went on to win gold with the England team and a silver on pommel horse, despite getting the same score as the gold medallist, Rhys McClenaghan of Ireland. The tie-break gave the title to the gymnast with the higher execution score, so Max was bumped down to second place.