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Tokyo Olympics: Team GB’s and defending champion Max Whitlock eases into the men’s pommel final

Olympic champion Max Whitlock adorably gets cheered on by his No 1 fan and two-year-old daughter Willow as Team GB star gets defence of two gold medals off rolling by qualifying for the men’s pommel final

British gymnast Max Whitlock’s number one fan urged him on as he began the defence of his two Olympic gold medals in Tokyo today.

Two-year-old daughter Willow wished her dad ‘Good Luck’ and shouted ‘Go GB’ in a heart-moving home video, recorded by his wife Leah at the family home in Essex early this morning.

Whitlock, who won two gold medals and a bronze at Rio 2016 and two bronzes at London 2012, shared the sweet film on his Instagram.

Whitlock began the defence of his two Olympic gold medals in Tokyo today

Team GB star Max Whitlock (right) was adorably cheered on by his No 1 fan and two-year-old daughter, Willow (left), before making his Olympic return on Saturday

The athlete was made an MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours list in recognition of his Olympic success and services to gymnastics.

The 28-year-old dad began his medal defence in the qualification rounds of Artistic Gymnastics today and eased through to the men’s pommel final on his return to Olympic competition in Tokyo.

Whitlock scored 14.9, ranking him in third place in the standings in the penultimate qualifying rotation, which guaranteed his qualification for the eight-man individual final.

Willow urged her dad on before he took to the floor in Tokyo

The heart-moving home video was recorded by his wife Leah at the family home in Essex early this morning

Daughter Willow wished her dad ‘Good Luck’ and shouted ‘Go GB’ in a heart-moving video

Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan, who pipped Whitlock to gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, saw his morning score of 15.266 lead the field with one further qualifying rotation still to go.

And Witlock admitted afterwards that nerves are inescapable when five years of hard work, which have included both world titles and major disappointments on some of his sport’s biggest stages, boil down into a two-minute process when he is required to get everything right.

‘I can say on behalf of every gymnast that qualification is the hardest and most nerve-racking thing ever, because everything rides on it,’ added Whitlock.

Whitlock eased through to the men's pommel final on his return to Olympic competition

Whitlock eased through to the men’s pommel final on his return to Olympic competition

‘If you muck things up, that’s your Olympics done, and if you don’t you can go on and have more opportunities to compete in that arena.

‘We all felt that. It was a bit quieter at breakfast this morning and you could feel that it was competition day. 

‘But we’ve come out here and I feel like we’ve delivered. After everything we’ve been through, to come out and do what we’ve done, we should be really pleased.’ 

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