Double Olympic gold medallist Max Whitlock has paid tribute to Longdean School for helping him on the road to Rio.
Whitlock, 23, who grew up in Adeyfield, won two golds in the floor and pommel horse events and a bronze in the all-around competition.
The former Longdean pupil is still coming to terms with his achievements but he is grateful to the school for allowing him to train in the afternoons.
“They (the school) were amazing,” said Whitlock, who now lives in Essex. “They let me leave lessons to train and it was the support of the teachers and the support of my friends which helped me. Maybe my friends were a bit jealous that I got to leave early but they love watching the competitions and they knew that was what I needed to do.”
Whitlock’s mum and dad and his older brother Ben still live in the area and he hopes to visit Longdean ‘before Christmas’.
He said he first started swimming and was able to do butterfly aged just six. But ‘luckily’ a friend suggested he tried gymnastics.
And if he had not become a gymnast, he would like to be a designer. He said a ‘big passion’ of his is sketching new clothes and trainers.
Whitlock was in Aylesbury last week as Nissan gifted him a dazzling car to celebrate his stunning Rio success in becoming Team GB’s first ever gymnast to win Olympic gold.
“Even my driving instructor texted me when I was in Rio, to say congratulations,” said Whitlock, who passed his test first time and drives a Nissan Juke.
“I hadn’t heard from him since passing. But I’m definitely a car man. I don’t know the ins and outs of them but I like the appearance of a car.”
Nissan sales director Paul Cockton, whose two daughters do gymnastics in Aylesbury, said: “Max has been a pleasure to work with. It’s great for the kids, and it gets the word out to show what Nissan is all about – supporting excellence.”