Britain’s Max Whitlock overcomes jitters to make Olympics pommel horse final

  • Gymnast admits to ‘nerve-racking’ qualification
  • Japan’s Kohei Uchimura exits after peeling off horizontal bar

Max Whitlock was not quite at his best as he stepped up to the pommel horse on Saturday afternoon. In the second half of his routine, he suffered a notable form break then fought hard to maintain his rhythm. But what is most important in the tense qualification round where medals can only be lost, not won, is that he managed to do so.

He finished with a score of 14.900, advancing to the pommel horse final in fifth place and he was satisfied: “Qualifications is a nerve-racking event, the hardest one, because the rest of the Olympic Games rides on that,” said Whitlock. “I’m really, really pleased with my events today.”

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Unbeatable Simone Biles’s only competition at Olympics is herself | Bryan Armen Graham

Iconic American gymnast is reaching her peak while becoming a voice for change and Tokyo 2020 may not be her last Games

Simone Biles was widely hailed as the best gymnast in history before she had even competed on the sport’s biggest stage. Born three months short of the age cut-off for the London Games, she had already piled up three straight all-around titles and 14 overall medals at world championships, including 10 golds, when she touched down in Brazil five years ago for her Olympic debut.

Somehow, the 4ft 8in, 105lb sprite from suburban Houston managed to realise the impossible expectations that preceded her, fulfilling her long-held promise with four gold medals in seven unforgettable days at the Arena Olímpica do Rio. Already a superstar in the parochial world of gymnastics, Biles became a household name overnight.

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Max Whitlock: ‘You’ve got 60 seconds and it’s done – you don’t get a second chance’

Britain’s double Olympic champion is dominant on the pommel horse where his mental strength and risk-taking set him apart

The last time Max Whitlock competed in a major final with a medal on the line, disaster nearly struck. Whitlock started his routine on the pommel horse final at the 2019 world championships as he always does, lifting himself up to handstand on one handle. But as he reached its apex he lost his balance and his hand moved up the horse. It was a clear error on the most unforgiving apparatus, the type that could scupper a routine.

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‘She knows how I feel’: teamwork inspires Gadirova twins to the top

Jennifer and Jessica, 16, are both in Team GB gymnastics squad and can’t wait to share a floor with US superstar Simone Biles

As Jennifer and Jessica Gadirova, Britain’s most promising young gymnasts, conduct their final preparations before their first Olympics, they say that their anticipation is further heightened by the possibility of finally getting to compete alongside Simone Biles.

“Just knowing she’s one of the greatest gymnasts of all time is just going to be shocking, and I’ll be speechless to see her, my jaw will be dropping like ‘oh my God she’s there,’ said Jessica in an interview with gathered media from Tokyo. “It’s going to be incredible to see her perform her amazing skills.

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An alternate athlete on the USA women’s gymnastics team has tested positive for Covid-19 in Japan four days before the opening ceremony.

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