MAX WHITLOCK is determined to join the 90-plus club this season to make the next step up to the very top of the gymnastics game.
The South Essex Gymnastic Club star will be looking to defend his British crown at the end of the month after recently making it back-to-back English titles.
A score of 88.65 saw the 21-year-old win the first domestic competition of the year in Wigan last week, but he wants to move on to the next level during a year which will feature European and World Championships and a home Commonwealth Games.
He said: “Breaking that 90 mark is really important to me because obviously that puts you up there with the rest of the world.
“In training I sometimes hit it – but it is a different thing in competition.
“I made a few mistakes at the English which I feel I can improve on, and now I am hoping to go clean at the British Championships. I’m looking forward to it.”
His English Championships showing also saw Whitlock record a new personal best of 16.10 on the pommel – and a convincing win over the returning Louis Smith – but the south Essex Gym man feels there is still room for improvement on his specialist piece of apparatus.
He said: “I upped my start score so it was good to see that pay off. This was the first competition where I had tried this new routine, so to break the 16 mark is really pleasing.
“It was very clean and I was happy with it because it was like I have been doing in training. But I can up it by one more tenth and I will hopefully be trying that at the British.”
Whitlock is now determined to re-claim his British title in Liverpool at the end of March.
He said: “The build up for the English was really good and I left there feeling like I could not have done anymore.
“Hopefully, I can continue that progress for the next two weeks and clean up the routines a bit and just go there and enjoy it.”
Whitlock was not South Essex’s only all-around champion at the English Championships, with rising start Brinn Bevan also claiming the under-17 title.
And Whitlock was quick to acknowledge Bevan’s growing status in the sport.
He said: “Brinn is really coming through strongly and it is good to have him at South Essex because it shows that we have strength all over the board and at different ages.
“I’m sure Scott (Hann, the club’s head coach) is really proud to have two all around champions. “Now I can’t wait for Brinn to break into the seniors – and I’m sure he will be keeping me on my toes soon enough!”