By Chris Gallagher
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Most athletes would be floored by the realization they had just won a historic double Olympic gold medal, but Britain’s Max Whitlock says he was just doing his job and is keen to get back in the gym.
Whitlock ended Britain’s 120-year wait for an Olympic gymnastics gold medal by winning the men’s floor title at the Rio Games on Sunday before claiming a second gold less than two hours later in the pommel horse.
Making it even sweeter for Britain, compatriot Louis Smith grabbed silver in the pommel horse — a repeat of their one-two finish at the 2015 world championships in Glasgow.
“It was really cool to see two flags rise up there, it’s just an amazing feeling,” Whitlock told reporters.
“It’s such a proud feeling to hear your national anthem being played and just stand there with Louis, one and two again like the world championship.”
Whitlock, 23, is no stranger to record-setting wins. Last year’s gold ended Britain’s 112-year hunt for a men’s world champion.
He also took bronze this week in the all around, which was won by his idol Kohei Uchimura of Japan.
Despite the weight of his first gold in the floor exercises, he did not have time to enjoy the moment as his day was only half over.
“I couldn’t really take in what I’d done on the floor. I had another job to do on pommel horse and I had to go back and refocus and get warmed up for that,” he said.
Now that he has time to take it all in, Whitlock said he would take a short break but would soon be back in the gym.
“There’s always stuff for me to learn. As I say after every competition, it motivates me even more to get back in the gym and learn more stuff, and I feel that way now,” he said.
Whitlock does have one regret from Rio, however.
The gymnast said he does not watch others compete, in order to keep his focus and stay calm, and that left him unable to view Uchimura’s final routine.
“He’s one of those elite superstars. The reason why I idolise him is he delivers every time,” Whitlock said.
“That’s quite tough, (not having) the pleasure of watching him finish off his all-around title with his high bar routine.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)