Max Whitlock has remarkably defended his Olympic gold medal on the pommel horse, outclassing the field with a score of 15.583.
Whitlock is the first man in more than 30 years to retain a pommel horse title at the Games. In doing so, he has further heightened a level of dominance that is rarely seen in modern gymnastics. He has now won the pommel horse gold at the past five world championships and Olympic Games. The only time he hasn’t won the competition over the past six years, he produced an identical score as the winner, Xiao Ruoteng, but lost the tiebreak.
Whitlock had entered the final in fifth place with a score of 14.900 after some struggles during his qualifying routine, but afterwards he underlined how satisfied he was with his performance under the nerves of the qualifying round where medals can only be lost rather than won.
In the final, Whitlock was tasked with the challenge of opening the competition, but he smoothly navigated his hardest routine, valued at 7.0, with only one hiccup as he muscled his handstand on his dismount. He then sat back and waited to see if any of his competitors could match his score. They could not.
Whitlock has now won six Olympic medals, including three golds after his victories on pommel horse and floor at Rio 2016. His overall medal haul at Olympic and world championships is 14. He is undeniably one of the greatest gymnasts of his generation.
The other medals were clinched by Lee Chih-kai of Chinese Taipei, who won a stellar silver with a score of 15.400, while Japan’s home favourite Kaya Kazuma took bronze with a score of 14.900. Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan finished in seventh place with a score of 13.100 after a fall.