Becky Downie praised Max Whitlock’s ‘insane achievement’ to win gold at the Tokyo Games men’s pommel horse.
The 28-year-old gymnast followed up two golds at the 2016 Rio Olympics with another win on the pommel, standing up to the pressure of having to perform his routine first.
Speaking to Eurosport after the win, Downie explained how going first might have given him the edge as a result of his experience.
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“Being first up can have its pros and cons,” she explained in The Cube.
“You know you have to go all out if you want to win, but Max is so calm and cool under pressure and I think that the best routine I’ve honestly ever see him do.
“I’m sure not even he can believe what he’s just done. It’s an insane achievement, what he’s just done.”
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Whitlock was also under pressure after a few disappointing displays this year, but Downie thinks he was simply taking a studied approach to peaking in Japan.
Asked what the win will mean to him, Downie said: “I think so much - so many people have doubted him coming into this competition. He didn’t have his best showing at the Euros this year, but I think he’s said he’s not always had his best performances at the Euros. His preparation has always built up to getting this Olympic title.
“Huge pressure on him coming into this: the pommel, you’re under huge pressure . To go first, he knew exactly what he needed to do. Kept his cool and incredible, absolutely incredible.”
The former Olympian explained just what was so impressive about his medal-winning routine.
“I think it’s the cleanliness of it,” she began.
“Some of the other routines, his execution was so much better today. He got that height, you can see his legs are glued together on everything. His shape’s improved. Just his speed as well.
“Speeds up in areas, his transitions are so smooth. So controlled, not many people can work a pommel like Max can work a pommel. The control he had, he knew he’d done a good job.”
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