Whitlock ready to up the ante as he sets sights on Rio 2016

Max Whitlock has his sights firmly set on winning more medals

Max Whitlock has his sights firmly set on winning more medals

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Hemel Hempstead’s gymnastics superstar Max Whitlock is back on track and targeting a medal haul at next summer’s Olympic games after making a promising recovery from his recent illness.

Max was forced to withdraw from the all-round competition at the British Gymnastics Championships in April due to a mystery ailment which was later diagnosed as ‘low grade’ glandular fever.

“It was a really frustrating illness, especially at first when I didn’t know what it was – I just felt really fatigued every day which was the toughest bit,” Max told the Gazette.

“When I found out what it was, it started to get a bit easier because I knew that all I needed was rest, and now hopefully I will come back stronger.

“I think it is an illness that can come back so I’ve got to be careful, but I did take it easy when I first started training again and took things slowly so I’ve done everything I can. I’ve just got to take it as it comes.”

Despite the set-back, the double Olympic medallist has recently enjoyed a successful training camp in Portugal and is now raring to go for this year’s remaining competitions – with all roads leading to Rio 2016.

“We’ve got five weeks until the next competition, which is a trial for the World Championships – that’s the London Open,” Max continued.

“I’ll be doing all six apparatus and my main target is to post another big all-round score because I really want to improve that this year. I’ve been working hard on my weaker pieces, trying to get them to a solid base score, and hopefully that will see my overall score go up by a few tenths.

“I’m trying to push my overall score up to the 91 mark – that’s where I really want to get to.

“After that we’ve got two more competitions; a friendly against France and then a friendly against Spain, before the team will be picked for the World Championships in Glasgow in October.

“I’m pretty much back to full fitness and I’ve been able to build up my routines so hopefully I will keep it going in the competitions that we have got coming up. Obviously the team is looking strong, everyone was looking really good in Portugal.”

Later this year, Max will turn his attention to the World Championships, which will act as a good yardstick for next year’s main event in Brazil – a prospect which Max admits is never far from his mind.

“The World Championships are all about the team because they act as a qualifier for the Olympic Games – hopefully we can go there with the best team possible,” said the Adeyfield man.

“It’s hard not to think about Rio, I know I’ve been thinking about it a lot. The day after London 2012, Rio was my main aim, but I’ve got to take it one step at a time – my main focus now is the competitions coming up.

“Hopefully these will act as good stepping stones on the Road to Rio.”

And it is clear to see that the all-round silver medallist from last year’s World Championships is hungry to add to his already-impressive trophy cabinet.

“With the results and medals I’ve won previously, it just pushes me even more to go out there and hopefully do the same thing again,” he added.

“I’m training hard and doing everything that I can do, but we know that gymnastics is a very hard sport, so hopefully everything will go well for me.”