Borough plans party for golden boy Max

Max Whitlock
Max Whitlock

Party plans are afoot to celebrate Olympic gymnast Max Whitlock’s Rio success in the coming weeks.

Dacorum Borough Council is currently in talks with Max’s parents Brian and Madeleine, who run Flower Pots Nursery in Adeyfield Road, and although plans are still under wraps they will be shared with the public once Max returns from South America.

Jessica Stretton, who will represent Great Britain in the Paralympic archery team next month

Jessica Stretton, who will represent Great Britain in the Paralympic archery team next month

Andrew Williams, leader of Dacorum Borough Council, said: “I am sure I speak for everyone in Dacorum when I say we are truly proud of Max’s extraordinary success in Rio and for becoming the most decorated Olympic gymnast in British history.

“Max is a great role-model and shows that with hard work and dedication you can achieve greatness.

“We had the honour of celebrating Max’s success in 2012 for the London Olympics and we look forward to honouring our local hero again after the phenomenal results in Rio.

“Well done to Max and all those that supported him in his early career and on the path to Olympic glory.”

In just two hours on Sunday Whitlock, 23, scooped two gold medals – the first Olympic golds ever won by a British gymnast.

Whitlock was born in Hemel and got the taste for tumbling at the Sapphire School of Gymnastics in Mark Road, before focussing his efforts on gymnastics and aspiring to one day win Olympic gold.

Speaking after winning his second gold, former Longdean School pupil Max said: “I’ve completely outdone myself – it’s just incredible.

“You put hours and hours in the gym for years and years and you only get about one minute to show what you’ve ben working on.

“To do it today, at the Olympic Games, I don’t know what to say. I’m just so, so happy.

“Making history is an incredible feeling and for team GB and British gymnastics, hopefully it can inspire youngsters to come through.

“The results can spur them on, and hopefully the future is bright.”

BBC broadcaster Gabby Logan was among a whole host of celebrities who congratulated Whitlock. She Tweeted: “Incredible, just a phenomenal achievement. Another gold for magic Max. Sir Max Whitlock?”

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning added his congratulations. “What an incredible achievement for Max,” he said. “I’m an honoured to have met him and his wonderful family several times and I am delighted at this result.

“He’s a great guy and worthy Olympian. He has truly made GB Olympic history.

“It shows what dedication and hard work can achieve.

“Local club Sapphire Gym, where Max started out his gymnastics career, can truly be proud of the part they played in helping him achieve his Olympic dream. It doesn’t get better than that.”

There were further Olympic success stories from Herts, as Joe Clarke, who trains at the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Waltham Cross, won gold in kayak K1 class, and Steven Scott, who trains at Nuthampstead Shooting Club, won bronze in the men’s double trap shooting.

Teresa Heritage, cabinet member for public health, localism and libraries at Herts County Council and chair of the Hertfordshire Lifestyle and Legacy Partnership, congratulated the athletes.

She said: “Well done to Joe, Max and Steve on their wonderful achievements, which are testament to their hard work and dedication.

“We’re very proud to see Hertfordshire’s athletes making such a huge contribution to Britain’s success on the biggest sporting stage of all.”

But 23-year-old Max is not the only former Longdean School pupil to achieve great things in the sporting arena.

Jess Stretton, 16, earned a place on GB’s para-archery team after winning the World Championships in 2015, so the town will be cheering her on to bring back the gold when the Paralympics starts on September 7.

Jess will also be one of thousands of teenagers receiving their GCSE results next week.

For details about Max’s celebration, follow @DacorumBC on Twitter, search for Dacorum Borough Council on Facebook or visit www.dacorum.gov.uk