Hemel Hempstead’s Max Whitlock insists he is hellbent on proving that last year was no fluke as he gears up for the World Championships and a return to the scene of one of his greatest achievements.
Having won two bronze medals at London 2012, as well as several European and Commonwealth Games medals, Max was at his imperious best at last year’s Commonwealths.
At Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena, Max went on to claim three gold medals – in the team event as well as in the all-around and floor competitions – plus pommel horse silver and parallel bars bronze.
It just so happens that this week’s World Championships will also take place at the SSE Hydro Arena, and after recovering from a bout of glandular fever that struck him earlier this year, Max is raring to go.
“Preparation has been going well, the whole team is looking brilliant, everyone is in good shape and looking forward to getting out there now,” the 22-year-old said.
“I definitely still get the buzz for World Championships but even more so this time because it is a home Games.
“I can’t wait and I have been looking forward to this final for a long time, especially since Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games.
“The Commonwealths were an amazing experience for me, one of my favourite competitions I have done, so getting back out there in the SSE Hydro will be brilliant.
“The whole team is very familiar with the SSE Hydro so hopefully that can give us a slight advantage.
“The Commonwealths were massive for me. It was a big target to win five medals.
“It was a very tough job because we had the Worlds, Europeans and Commonwealths all in the same year so it was a big target but everyone did really well.”
Although Whitlock will be making a triumphant return to the SSE Hydro Arena, he knows the competition in Glasgow is about much more than just him.
If Great Britain make the top eight in the team event then they will secure a squad for Rio 2016 – and Whitlock is adamant this is everyone’s main priority.
“This World Championships is a massive stepping stone for Rio as we only have this and then the Europeans before the Games,” he added. “It is coming around really fast.
“It would mean a massive deal to reach Rio. It is very hard to make that team because there are about 15 guys fighting for five places.
“So to be in that kit would be an absolute honour, but first thing is first we must qualify a team and that is the main goal.”
SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen