Born January 13, 1994 in Hamel Hampstead, England, Max Whitlock began gymnastics at age 7. Whitlock proved his commitment to the sport when he briefly moved to Slovenia to keep training with his coach, who had moved back to his home country. He returned to Great Britain after three months, then spent the next nine years commuting for up to three hours a day from his hometown to his new gym.
2012 London Olympics
Whitlock made his international debut at 19 years old at the Olympics in his home country. In the team final, he competed on four of the six apparatus to help the British men finish third. Their bronze was the first team medal of any color won by the British men’s squad in 100 years.
Individually, he qualified for the pommel horse final in eighth place, but improved in the final to win bronze behind Hungary’s Krisztian Berki and fellow Brit Louis Smith.
Despite being a two-time Olympic medalist, Whitlock didn’t truly establish himself as a serious podium contender until 2014. That year’s world championships began on an underwhelming note, as Whitlock didn’t qualify for any individual finals and the British men finished fourth in the team competition.
But when his teammate, Nile Wilson, injured his wrist and had to withdraw from the all-around final, Whitlock received his spot. He stepped up in a big way, posting the night’s top score on pommel horse en route to claiming all-around silver. He shared the podium with the 2012 Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura.
A bout of mono kept him out of competition for part of 2015, although he made the most of it by using his break from training to visit Disneyland. By the 2015 World Championships, Whitlock was back in world-class shape. While he couldn’t replicate his medal-winning performance in the all-around, finishing fifth, he picked up three medals elsewhere. First, Whitlock and the British men finished second in the team competition. Then he showed his tumbling prowess with a silver medal in the floor exercise.
Then he finally proved himself as the best pommel horse worker in the world. His pommels gold was the first ever world title for a British male gymnast.
2016 Rio Olympics
While Whitlock and the British men couldn’t replicate their podium finish in the team competition from the 2012 Olympics, Whitlock didn’t let that disappointment affect his individual performances.
In the men’s team final, many gymnasts in the field had the meet of their lives, turning in brilliant routine after brilliant routine. In the final rotation, all eyes were on Japan’s Kohei Uchimura and Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev as they fought it out for gold. But an almost as intense battle was happening for bronze, with around six gymnasts in contention.
But it was Whitlock who made it onto the podium. His all-around medal was the first for a British gymnast in 108 years.
But there was more history to make. Whitlock qualified for the floor and pommel horse finals, which took place within a few hours of each other. The quick turnaround was no problem: Whitlock won gold medals in both. On floor, he scored a 15.633 with his precise tumbling and crowd-pleasing air flairs. On pommel horse, he earned 15.966 to outscore the competition, including his teammate Smith, and claim the title.
He won Britain’s first and second Olympic gold medals in gymnastics with his performances in the floor and pommel horse finals.
“The way they both compete is so relaxed and with such confidence.” –Max Whitlock on the two athletes he admires most, gymnast Kohei Uchimura and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt
Outside the gym
Whitlock is a heartthrob in Britain, but he’ll soon be off the market. The 23-year-old recently proposed to Leah Hicks, whom he started dating when he was 14.