DIRECTOR of Coaching Scott Hann says Max Whitlock’s MBE is a testament to his “exceptional results” and another milestone for the South Essex Gymnastics Club.
Double Olympic champion Whitlock, who turns 24 this week, was among those recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for his outstanding contribution to gymnastics.
His coach and mentor Hann admits it was an honour neither ever considered when they began their journey to London 2012 and Rio 2016 glory – but says it is another career highlight.
Hann, speaking while filming was taking place at the Basildon Sporting Village in mid January for a feature on the respected Trans World Sport TV programme, said: “It is special because any athlete who gets an MBE has to have achieved some exceptional results.
“And Max was deeply honoured but also very humbled to get an MBE – like he always is with everything.
“Of course it is a great honour for him but also for the club and everyone who supports him – all our unsung heroes here.
“He is the frontman for our club I guess but he knows what a great team he has behind him and he never takes that for granted.
“He respects he has an ambassadorial role for us and he has taken on that responsibility very well.”
— Max Whitlock (@maxwhitlock1) December 30, 2016
Jane Allen, the CEO at British Gymnastics, said: “Max, as Britain’s most decorated Olympic gymnast, is a fantastic ambassador for the sport and a truly worthy MBE recipient.”
Hann has coached Whitlock since the junior ranks and they will become family this summer when the Olympic floor and pommel champion marries Leah Hickton, the sister of his wife Jamie-Leigh. All four are long-standing and key members of South Essex Gymnastics Club.
Hann said: “Max’s MBE does make for some interesting chat away from work.
“As coach I’m used to making the decisions, taking the flak and being in charge I guess. So I am not sure I am ready to start calling him Sir!”