HE MIGHT have played the supporting role as Max Whitlock rewrote the British gymnastics history books in Rio but Nile Wilson is adamant that it will be him front and centre in four years time.
Already a double Olympic medallist from London 2012, Whitlock made it a hat-trick of bronzes thanks to a superb performance which secured Great Britain’s first Olympic all-around podium finish since Walter Tysall back in 1908.
As is quickly becoming tradition in the gymnastics event in Rio, the final was another exhilarating affair with the run for the medals going right down to the wire as Japan’s defending champion Kohei Uchimura superbly held off the challenge of Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev to take gold.
Wilson, meanwhile, belied his tender years with an experienced showing which earned him 89.565 points and an eighth-place finish.
But while delighted to share a special moment with teammate Whitlock, the 20-year-old was already thinking about how he could ensure he is on the podium himself come Tokyo 2020.
“I’m very pleased, first Olympics, 20 years old, and top eight in the world, I can’t be happier – I’m just loving every second,” said Wilson, who also helped the men to a fourth-place finish in the team final on Monday.
“I’m so happy for Max getting bronze. It’s great for all of us, he’s a massive inspiration for me.
“I’ve looked up to him for years and years and fortunately I get to compete alongside him.
"I said to him at the end that in four years time I will be doing what he’s doing.
“All-around is the one I’ve focused on since I was a young boy, it’s the medal I want to win.
“This is the pinnacle of gymnastics, for someone to have the highest score on every piece of apparatus, there’s nothing that beats that.
“It’s the third time I’ve been out there this week, I seem to soak it up and just love every second. I just want to show the world what I am capable of.”
Starting on the floor in a group which featured both Uchimura and Verniaiev, Wilson opened with a score of 14.900 before 14.066 on pommel – his lowest score of the competition – dropped him down the leaderboard.
But from then on, the Leeds gymnast was only ever heading in one direction with his rings and vault earning 14.933 and 15.000 respectively before an impressive 15.700 on the parallel bars left him eighth with one rotation left.
The high bars – an event in which he will compete in the individual final in on Tuesday – was his finale and he duly delivered with 14.966 to maintain his position.
And while the high bar final is his next focus, Wilsonknows where he needs to work on for his all-around future.
“One piece for me where I struggle is pommel and it showed in my scores today. Max is scoring 15.8 on pommel and I scored 14.0,” he added.
“If I could score what Max could I would be winning competitions.
“That’s something to think about for the next cycle. I’m really going to work hard on the pommel horse and try and get my score up into the 15s.
“But first it’s the high bar final, I’m looking forward to it, I’m very sure I can medal.”
*Aldi is the first Official Supermarket partner of Team GB and has been championing our nation’s extraordinary athletes on their Road to Rio and encouraging the public to tuck into fresh, affordable, Great British food. For more information visitaldi.co.uk*
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