Gymnastics-Whitlock 'on right track' with British pommel title

FILE PHOTO: Gymnastics - 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships - Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium - September 30, 2023 Britain's Max Whitlock reacts after his routine on the horizontal bar during the men's qualification REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Three-times Olympic champion Max Whitlock said he was back and on the right track after winning pommel horse gold at the British gymnastics championships.

The 31-year-old took 18 months out after the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, seeking motivation to continue, but is aiming to defend his pommel title in Paris this August in what would be his fourth Games.

"I'm really pleased, it's been a positive weekend for me overall. There are still areas I can improve but I’m definitely on the right track," Whitlock said after scoring 15.250 on Sunday in Liverpool, with silver-medallist Jake Jarman scoring 14.150.

A year ago, at the same championships, he finished seventh in pommel after rare errors.

"It feels crazy we are in Olympic year now. It feels like 2024 has really started," added the six-times Olympic medallist.

"It feels good, it feels good to be back. Since Tokyo it has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me, with a year out of the sport then coming back in."

Whitlock, gold medallist in pommel and floor in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, was fifth in pommel at last year's world championships after missing the 2023 European championships due to injury.

The European championships in Italy at the end of April are the next target with Team GB due to announce the gymnastics team for Paris in June.

If selected, Whitlock will be hoping to become the first gymnast to win a medal on the same apparatus at four successive Games.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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