Olympics 2020: Max Whitlock defends pommel horse title

Max Whitlock became just the fourth artistic gymnast to defend their Olympic title as he won pommel horse gold on Sunday. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Team GB's Max Whitlock defended his pommel horse gold medal at Tokyo 2020 on Sunday, becoming the most successful Olympic gymnast on the apparatus.

Whitlock becomes one of only four artistic gymnasts to defend an Olympic title, having also won in Rio five years ago.

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The 28-year-old was first up but showed no signs of pressure, scoring a daunting 15.583. He then faced a nervous wait as seven other finalists stepped up to the apparatus.

However, his performance was not matched, with highest qualifier Lee Chih-kai from Chinese Taipei scoring 15.400 to clinch silver. Ireland's Rhys McClenaghan, who beat Whitlock at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, finished seventh after an early stumble.

"I feel absolutely lost for words, I can't even describe the feeling and I feel completely overwhelmed, it feels surreal," Whitlock said.

"Team GB have been doing absolutely incredible, the gold medals have been flowing in and I just wanted to do the same thing. To come out here and get my own, I feel very proud.

"This is the probably the most pressured environment I have ever been in, this morning I really felt that. I have always said that chasing is always easier than retaining and I have learned that throughout my journey and I feel fortunate to be in this position. But I am only getting older and experience pays off in a situation like this.

"I am just incredibly happy and thankful for the journey we have been on to get here. It has been a crazy one I can't quite believe it."

Whitlock's gold is his third individual Olympic title after golds on the pommel and floor at Rio 2016. He also has an individual bronze in the all-around event from five years ago.