Whitlock ends 120-year British wait for gymnastics gold with two in a day
Max Whitlock ended Great Britain's 120-year wait for an Olympic gymnastics gold medal on 14 August by winning two titles in the space of two hours. First he upstaged two-time world champion Kenzo Shirai of Japan to prevail on the floor, and then pulled off an inspired routine to win the pommel horse at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
There was also unfettered jubilation for the host nation, where Diego Hypolito and Athur Mariano joined Whitlock on the podium of the floor event, taking silver and bronze respectively. For Hypolito who burst into tears of joy, it was an especially emotional moment, after his hopes were dashed by a fall at the previous two editions of the Games.
Whitlock produced a series of gravity-defying tumbles to win the title with a total score of 15.633. Shirai had been the favourite to become the first Japanese gymnast to win the floor exercise since Sawao Kato back in 1968, but two notable errors effectively ended his hopes of a medal.
Meanwhile there was impassioned support for Brazilian pair Hypolito and Mariano. Chants of "Diego, Diego, Diego" ringing out around the arena. And when he was finally confirmed in silver medal position in the final standings, Hypolito burst into tears. Kohei Uchimura, who had earlier mounted a successful defence of his men’s all-around crown, finished fifth.
Hypolito, 30, who fell flat on his face during the London 2012 Games, savoured his 15.533 score as long-awaited redemption. “I fell in two Olympic Games. They were very difficult for me. I was able to overcome that and this is a great result for me. I believed in myself and my coach believed in me, when nobody believed in me," he told reporters.
Compatriot Mariano, 22, who curled up on the floor, too nervous to watch the final results unfold, notched 15.433. “It was unthinkable to have two Brazilians on the podium but finally our day came," he beamed after his performance.
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