Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to read the citation for Max Whitlock MBE for the award of Honorary Doctor of Science.
Max Whitlock is a British gymnast – five-time Olympic medallist, double Olympic gold medallist, double World Champion, three-time European Champion and three-time Commonwealth Champion. He lives and trains in Essex, close to our Chelmsford campus.
Born in Hemel Hempstead, Max was introduced to his sport at the age of seven, joining the Sapphire School of Gymnastics, which provided the ideal foundation for such a promising young talent. By the age of 12, Max had moved to South Essex Gymnastics Club, where he was to come under the influence of leading coach Scott Hann MBE.
Max first came to prominence at the 2010 Junior European Championships in Birmingham, where he placed second in the All-around event, and took gold in the Floor and Pommel Horse.
In October of the same year, Max was part of the England team that took silver in the Commonwealth Games, also capturing individual Pommel Horse silver and High Bar bronze.
His upward trajectory continued, and he was first selected for the senior Great Britain squad as travelling reserve for the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo. By 2012 he was part of the squad that won team gold at the European Championships. And in the London Olympics that summer, he helped the team capture bronze – the first time since 1912 that the men’s team had won an Olympic medal. Max rounded off the event with individual bronze in the Pommel Horse.
At the European Championships the following year, Max took three medals – one of each colour – including gold in the Floor.
2014 saw Max add to his growing collection of gold medals, with victory on the Pommel Horse at the European Championships in Sofia. Plus another three golds in the Commonwealth Games – in the Team event, All-around and Floor.
2015 saw Max become the first British Male to win a World Championship title, winning a gold medal on the Pommel Horse, and picking up silver medals in the Floor and Team events.
The Olympic year of 2016 got off to a flying start with gold at the World Cup in Glasgow. Then in April, Max won a clutch of medals at the British Championships, including All-around, Floor, Pommel Horse and High Bar gold. Then it was off to Rio, where he was to make Olympic history.
By winning the All-around bronze, Max gave Britain its first medal in this event for 108 years. His gold in the Individual Floor made him the first ever British gymnast to win an Olympic title, and two hours later he added a second gold medal – in the Individual Pommel Horse.
Max’s dedication and success have helped raise the profile of gymnastics with young people throughout the UK. And his efforts were recognised in the 2017 New Year’s honours list, when he was awarded an MBE for services to gymnastics.
Max continues to rewrite the record books, and at the recent World Championships in Montreal, his victory in the Men’s Pommel Horse made him the first British gymnast ever to successfully defend a world title.
Max’s achievements, his work ethic, his ability to overcome challenges, and his constant striving for excellence, all resonate with the values our University holds dear.
He will be an inspirational role model for all our students, particularly those in Anglia Ruskin’s emerging Sport and Exercise Science area.
We are delighted to welcome Max Whitlock to our Anglia Ruskin community.
Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to present Max Whitlock for the award of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.