World Gymnastics Championships: Whitlock loses out on pommel gold in dramatic tie-break

British gymnast Max Whitlock just missed out on a third consecutive pommel title at the World Championships as he won silver in Doha on Friday.

The double Olympic champion matched Chinese winner Xiao Ruoteng’s 15.166 score but had a lower execution mark.

Whitlock said he was “gutted” after missing out on becoming the first Briton to win three titles in a row, having taken gold in 2015 and 2017.

“I hit the pommel with my second skill which is a big deduction,” he said.

“I knew I needed it to be perfect. I was hoping for more but that’s just how it goes sometimes. I am happy with the year – I have taken so many positives. I can learn a lot from these competitions.

“I had my plan and it was about going for the highest score. I have managed to keep it like that for many years so I want to keep continuing to move forwards from that.”

The 25-year-old posted a huge score of 15.233 on the pommel during the team final – a score which would have won him the title in the individual event.

Earlier this year, Whitlock missed out on a European medal when he finished seventh in Glasgow.

Compatriot Becky Downie finished seventh in the uneven bars final with a score of 13.333 after losing her swing and falling midway through.

The 26-year-old was crying as she finished her routine and was consoled afterwards by younger sister Ellie – who finished 11th in the women’s all-around final on Thursday.

“It’s so hard. I have been here so many times. I don’t know what to say,” Downie told BBC Sport.

“My start was pretty good but I took the risk. My angles were completely off. I could have done the easier routine and still got something. It sucks! I am proud of myself for getting this far but it still hurts.”

Two-time Commonwealth champion Downie damaged ligaments when she dislocated her elbow at the European Championships in 2017 and pulled out of this year’s event through injury.

She said she will have to undergo further surgery on an ankle injury after these championships.

“I didn’t even think I would make it when I came back from injury. It gets to a point where you think, will I ever do it?” said Downie.

“I was really glad that Ellie was there. It was not the way I wanted to finish these championships. It didn’t come off this time but I am confident I will come back.”

Earlier on Friday, American Simone Biles became the first gymnast to win 13 world titles after claiming gold in the vault.


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