Rio 2016: GB gold rush as Max Whitlock makes history

Great Britain's Max Whitlock on his way to winning gold on the Pommel Horse (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire)

Great Britain's Max Whitlock on his way to winning gold on the Pommel Horse (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire)

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Max Whitlock took less than two hours to achieve twice what no British gymnast had previously managed in 120 years in Rio yesterday, writes Mark Staniforth.

The 23-year-old grabbed gold in the men’s floor event and followed it up by pipping his team-mate Louis Smith in a thrilling finish to the pommel horse final.

Whitlock, the 2015 pommel world champion, had been tipped to become the first British gymnast to stand on top of an Olympic podium.

But few believed he would clinch double gold with two nerveless performances which underlined his status as one of the finest male gymnasts in the world.

Whitlock scored 15.633 on the floor then watched as the favourites including Kenzo Shirai and Samuel Mikulak both made mistakes that left them out of medal contention.

Instead it was two Brazilians, Diego Hypolito and Arthur Mariano, who completed the podium places, to the delight of the home crowd.

Whitlock was cheered onto the podium to collect his historic gold medal while the Brazilian pair milked the acclaim of the crowd.

After a brief pose for photographers, Whitlock was ushered away to prepare for the pommel and he came back refreshed and clearly ready for more.

Starting fifth of eight finalists, Smith led the way with a score of 15.833, until Whitlock eclipsed him with 15.966 with one more athlete to go.

And when Russian Nikolai Kusenkov summoned an unspectacular routine, gold and silver for Whitlock and Smith were assured.

It was the fourth Olympic medal of Smith’s career while Whitlock’s historic golden double takes his own career Games tally to five.

Whitlock said: “I have completely outdone myself, standing here. I am very proud and it’s incredible.

“I never go into competition expecting to get a medal, I go in to do my job. Hours and hours, years and years in the gym come down to one minute. I am so happy. I had to refocus (after the first gold). I had another job to do. Now I can take both of them in at the same time. The emotion hit me when I realised what I had done.”

Smith also savoured his silver medal. He said: “To be here is brilliant in itself, to have messed up the team final, I was dealing with a lot, to come and do that, it means the world.”

Elsewhere, Justin Rose won the first men’s golf tournament, Jason Kenny won cycling sprint gold and Giles Scott is guaranteed gold in the sailing.

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