Gymnast Max Whitlock on waffles, winning gold and walking on his hands

by John Koski

Guilty pleasure? Sticky toffee pudding or waffles and ice cream. I can treat myself when I’m not in competition.

 

Where is home? I’m originally from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, but my fiancée [gymnastics coach Leah Hickton] and I live in Basildon, Essex, where I train.

 

Career plan B? Designing clothes and trainers. It’s an ambition of mine when my gymnastics career is over.

 

Who would play you in a movie of your life? Mark Wahlberg.

 

Biggest bugbear? People who don’t hold the door open for you when you’re walking through behind them.

 

As a child you wanted to be… A gymnast – I started when I was seven and it’s all I’ve ever known.

 

Earliest memory? Walking on my hands on holiday in the Canaries and getting massive blisters on them because it was so hot.

 

Secret to a happy relationship? Doing everything you can to help each other.

 

Your best quality? I’m a chilled, go-with-the-flow kind of person, which helps me when I’m competing.

 

And your worst? I can be impatient. If I have an idea or there’s something I want to do, I have to get on with it straight away.

 

Most romantic thing you’ve ever done? Proposing to Leah in the Lake District a year ago. She was a bit tearful but said yes, so I was happy.

 

Last meal on earth? A roast dinner, which always reminds me of Christmas.

 

Dream dinner-party guests? My family. We don’t get together too often, but a family meal is one of my favourite things.

 

Cat or dog? I haven’t got any pets, but if I did I would have a dog.

 

Advice to teenage self? Don’t stress unnecessarily.

 

Starstruck moment? Seeing Kōhei Uchimura, the greatest gymnast ever, for the first time in Japan in 2010 was amazing. In 2014, I came second to him in the All-Around Final of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, which was surreal.

 

Career highlight? Winning two gold medals at last year’s Rio Olympics.

 

Most embarrassing moment? Doing interviews at the 2015 World Championships with a massive scab and scrape on my face, which I got after falling during the floor exercises.

 

Favourite tipple? A glass of Coke.

 

What did you have for breakfast today? Beans on toast.

 

Top of your bucket list? Either doing a skydive or some sort of crazy driving experience, maybe in a Lamborghini, which is my favourite car.

 

One thing that would make your life better? An extra few hours in the day.

 

Philosophy? Stay chilled and enjoy the journey.

 

Where would you time travel to? London in 2012 to relive competing at a home Olympic Games – and maybe upgrading my two bronze medals to gold!

 

First record you bought? An Eminem album.

 

Most extravagant purchase? A Porsche 718 Cayman in bright orange, my favourite colour.

 

Style icon? Kanye West – I admire what he’s done in fashion.

 

Celebrity crush? Gigi Hadid.

 

Happiness is… Family.

 


Max is an ambassador for the National Lottery Awards, in which UK projects can win Lottery funding.