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Max Whitlock targeting more Olympic glory

Max Whitlock targeting more Olympic glory
© Reuters
The reigning Olympic and world pommel horse champion is upbeat ahead of his Tokyo medal quest.

Max Whitlock insisted his fall in the European Championships this year has "100 per cent" made him stronger as he steps up preparations for Tokyo.

The 28-year-old reigning Olympic and world pommel horse champion made a costly error when he fell in qualifying during the European Championships in Switzerland.

Despite not coming away with yet another medal to add to his collection, Whitlock – who has five European golds to his name – has taken the positives from the experience.

"It happens. If you look at my stats, I've got some good European results under my belt but I've also made mistakes on four out of seven Europeans that I've done, and that's a lot of mistakes," Whitlock told the PA news agency.

"I think that's what you've got to know as an athlete, as a person, that you're never going to be perfect every single time, mistakes happen.

"I've said it previously and I'll say it again, every time that I've been to a competition and it's gone perfectly, it's amazing, and of course you'd want that every single time – but you don't learn anything.

"The times where I've gone and I've made mistakes, it's actually made me better and stronger in the long term."

Having spent much of the lockdown trying to replicate a competition environment, April's European Championships was the first competition for more than 18 months in the gymnastics calendar.

Whitlock added: "100 per cent (the error has made me stronger), there's no doubt about it.

"I've learnt a lot from it. If it had gone perfectly, I wouldn't have made any changes because I'd have thought the whole build-up was right.

"There are a couple of changes that I needed to make and it's just shown that to me and now it's learning from that and knowing that I need to put myself in more uncomfortable situations during training in this two-month period."

Whitlock is already a five-time Olympic medallist having competed at London 2012 and the Rio Games
Whitlock is already a five-time Olympic medallist having competed at London 2012 and the Rio Games (Jane Barlow/PA)

Whitlock swept to double gold at the 2016 Olympics but has left the floor routine behind him as he continues to specialise in the pommel heading into Japan.

With the crowd numbers not yet confirmed for events in Tokyo, the British gymnast has been preparing himself in a number of ways for what could be a very different atmosphere to previous games.

"It might be that I put my pommel horse in the middle of an empty hall to try and replicate a change of atmosphere as much as I can," Whitlock said.

Max Whitlock and Laura Kenny took part in the Team GB kit launch at Somerset House
Max Whitlock and Laura Kenny took part in the Team GB kit launch at Somerset House (Ben Duffy Photography)

"I'll just do all those opportunities that I can, I'll livestream quite a lot of routines so that I get an audience, and the pressure of people watching. Just different environments that are going to help me in those situations," he said.

"It's a shame (that the arena will not be full) but we'll have to thrive off the team atmosphere, more so here, and we're going to have to try and support each other more than we normally do and just gel and go together as much as we can to give it our best shot."

:: Whitlock was speaking to the PA news agency at the Adidas kit launch for the Team GB and Paralympics GB kits for Tokyo 2020

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States42410
Republic of KoreaRepublic of Korea2035
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia1427
19  Great BritainGreat Britain0112
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· Wave conditions permitting, surfing will make its Olympic debut (11pm-8.20am)

· Another debutant sport at this Olympics, most eyes will be on American Nyjah Huston in the men's street contest as he looks to add Olympic gold to his four world titles and 12 X-Games golds. (12.30am-5am)

· History beckons for Jade Jones as she looks to become a three-time Olympic champion - something never done before in the sport prior to these Games (2am-1.45pm)
· Team GB's Bradly Sinden - world champion two years ago - is also going for gold in the men's -68kg category (2am-1.45pm)

· Already-legendary gymnast Simone Biles makes her first appearance of the Games in the women's qualifying event (2am-2pm)

· The first swimming medals of the Games will be dished out, with home favourite Daiya Seto going for gold in the men's 400m individual medley (2.30am-4.20am)

· Lizzie Deignan is among the Team GB team looking for success in the women's road race (5am-9.30am)

· Reigning two-time Olympic champion Andy Murray starts his title defence against Canadian hotshot Felix Auger-Aliassime (7am approx.)

> Today's schedule in full
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