Double Olympic champion Max Whitlock to take six-month break

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Double Olympic gold medallist Max Whitlock has announced he is taking a six-month break from competitive gymnastics.

The 24-year-old, who became Great Britain's first ever Olympic gymnastics champion following his double triumph on the floor and pommel horse at the 2016 Rio Games, will miss the iPro World Cup, which will be staged at London's 02 Arena next month.

Whitlock will also be absent from the European Championships in Romania but is poised to return to action for the World Championships in Canada this autumn.

Whitlock said: "I spent time making sure it was the right decision and I know 100 per cent that it is.

"After the Rio Olympics, I did not want to force getting back in the gym. I had three months off, which is unheard of for me. I was spending my time going to see the people who had supported me, and I was really, really busy.

"I felt like I did not want to rush getting back into routines. Even if I started training the day after the Olympics I would not have had enough time to get the new skills that I want when I come back.

"I also wanted to make sure I was fully recovered. If you are not, and you have competition after competition after competition, it is not a good thing. I would burn out."

Whitlock, who also won two bronze medals at the London Games, was propelled into the spotlight following his heroics in Rio.

He was nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, performed for the Prince of Wales in a woollen suit, and was appointed an MBE by the Queen.

The Hemel Hempstead athlete however, insists he never contemplated retiring from the sport and wants to continue for a further two Olympics.

"I always said I want to do gymnastics for as long as I possibly can," Whitlock, who is getting married in July, added.

"I love the sport and I love doing what I am doing. It's amazing that I have two gold medals. It's brilliant but it does not stop there. Those medals are massive motivation for me moving forwards and trying to retain my titles.

"That's what I'm working towards now. I have the world title to try and keep and it's all geared up to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020."