Whitlock hails National Lottery transformational funding after England team athletes break Commonwealth record
Max Whitlock has made a memorable return to his local gymnastics club in South Essex to reveal how National Lottery funding led Team England gymnasts to their most successful Commonwealth Games ever time.
The artistic gymnasts of the England team delivered their best performance at the Games, finishing with a stunning ten gold, five silver and one bronze.
And Whitlock believes that without the National Lottery’s support over the past decade and its £40m investment to support the Commonwealth Games, the impact the England team might not have had been so important.
He said: “I don’t think we would be where we are in this sport if we didn’t have funding from the National Lottery.
“In terms of their support for what they do in facilities and staff, making sure that each of us athletes can focus on our sport is hugely beneficial.
“You go back ten years ago, there wasn’t much there and now you see the results coming in very, very steadily.
“You can see history being made in every competition we take part in, we really try to push our limits and see where we can go.
“Participating in this journey has been a huge honor – all the partners are helping us build this momentum and it continues.”
Whitlock is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes supported by the world-class program funded by Britain’s National Sports Lottery, giving him full-time training, access to the best coaches in the world and benefit from cutting-edge technology, science and medical support.
Four years ago on the Gold Coast, the gymnast was crowned champion in his favorite pommel horse event by Rhys McClenaghan of Northern Ireland performing.
But watching England athletes Jake Jarman and Joe Fraser dominate their trials in Birmingham has brought immense pride to the 29-year-old.
Jarman won four gold medals, including the all-around, floor and vault events, with Fraser winning the pommel horse title for his.
Whitlock added: “It’s interesting to watch because I trained with [Jarman] for many years now and I think on the surface it looks like Jake’s performance came out of nowhere.
“But coming into this Commonwealth, everyone in the team knew what they were capable of.
“Obviously we were the team favourites, he wasn’t the all-around favorite and he would honestly say he was too, but he’s a mega talent.
“For Joe, I was talking to him in the prep and asking him about how he was feeling and his frame of mind was brilliant because he was overwhelmingly positive.
“Literally before the pommel horse final he said he and James Hall were in it and they would make me proud, and then after he said that medal was for me.
“We have so much respect for each other, and I was really glad he got it.”
The three-time Olympic champion retained his pommel horse title with a score of 15.583 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and is now back on track to compete at Paris 2024 after a break from the sport.
The South Essex Gymnastics Club athlete was immensely proud that his club sent four athletes and five support staff to Birmingham 2022, showcasing the immense talent they have produced. One of them was two-time Commonwealth champion Courtney Tulloch, who returned to the club alongside his own childhood hero Whitlock to engage with young children and inspire their journey into elite sport.
Tulloch said: “It’s important for them to realize that we are like them and to train with them every day.
“For me, it was when Max and Louis [Smith] I went to the Olympics and won medals and I used to think, well, I trained with them every day, so if they’re on TV winning medals Olympics, so why not me?
“And that’s helped me a lot in my career, so it’s important that we come back, tell them the stories and really connect with them.”
National Lottery players raise over £30m a week for good causes, including vital funding for sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers work wonders at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.