Whitlock intent on defending Olympic titles in Tokyo

Max Whitlock at Rio 2016
Max Whitlock at Rio 2016

MAX WHITLOCK has already decided he will bid to defend his double Olympic crown at Tokyo 2020.

The South Essex gymnast, 23, emerged as one of the biggest stars of Rio 2016 with floor and pommel golds and a bronze for Britain’s first all-around medal in 108 years.

The Basildon star arrived in the UK to a hero’s welcome last week and less than a fortnight after the end of the Games his coach Scott Hann says he is planning to spearhead the British charge in Japan.

Hann said: “Max is 100 percent committed to Tokyo but we need to talk about how to approach the next four years because he’s thinking about starting a family and also has commercial things to juggle now.

“He may decide to do all six pieces or just a couple but he’ll certainly want to defend his two titles and maybe add in a new element.

“But the all-around is quite a difficult thing to do, so we may need to have a rethink on that and see how the lay of the land is.”

Hann says he will sit down and work out a strategy for the next four years with Whitlock and his club-mate Brinn Bevan when they all travel to Portugal next week for a Rio 2016 debrief.

South Essex’s Bevan, 19, was also part of the British team in Brazil this summer and will want to build on that experience in Japan.

Hann also revealed what an amazing trip to Rio while they were away from the competition arena, with visits to the famous Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue.

He said: “Brazil is having a difficult time financially at the moment – but it is still a breathtaking country.

“It was also good to meet some genuine sporting superstars. I got the chance to speak to Andy and Jamie Murray at one point and they were really interested in gymnastics, and asked me lots of questions.

“And I think one of the funniest times was when I found myself in a lift with half of the British women’s hockey team. I said, ‘I’m not going to lie – I feel a but intimated!’. They laughed and it broke the ice and they were a really nice bunch.”