The gymnastics event finals in Rio on Sunday crowned a new champion of men's gymnastics, Briton Max Whitlock. The 23-year-old gymnast already earned a bronze medal in the individual all-around, and now he's proving in the event finals that he really is one of the best. Whitlock scored not one, but two, gold medals on the pommel horse and the floor exercise, accomplishing a rare feat in gymnastics and an unprecedented feat for British gymnasts.
Four years of training since the London games made a huge difference for Whitlock, who finished the Olympics in his home country with bronze medals for the team all-around and pommel horse. Whitlock's pommel horse score this year is .366 points higher than his third-place performance in 2012, a huge margin of self-improvement. Whitlock didn't even qualify for the finals on floor four years ago, finishing in 14th place in the qualifying round.
With his wins on pommel horse and floor, Whitlock is establishing a new era of British gymnastics — this is the first time ever that the Brits have won a gold medal in the sport. The 116-year era without a gold medal was broken in extra spectacular fashion as Whitlock's teammate Louis Smith took the silver for pommel horse, while Team USA's Alex Naddour finished with the bronze. Whitlock certainly proved that he deserves a spot in the history books, and the British are filled with pride for their athlete and their country.
Unfortunately for any of you wondering, Whitlock is off the market. He proposed to his girlfriend of nine years, fellow gymnast Leah Hickton, just before leaving for the Olympics. The two train together at the South Essex Gymnastics Club, where Hickton is also the head women's coach, and post stupid cute Instagrams doing handstands together, so they're basically the definition of couple goals.
Whitlock didn't qualify for event finals on high bar or parallel bars so he's done competing in Rio, but he has a chance to come back for a third Olympics. He'll be 27 in 2020, the same age as Kohei Uchimura, who just won the gold medal for the individual all-around in Rio, so although it's older than most male gymnasts, it's definitely still conceivable for Whitlock to return to the Olympic stage. Whitlock's star is on the rise, and hopefully, he will continue representing and winning for Team GB for years to come.