Wedding bells and a bronze medal for Max Whitlock


It's beyond us how bronze medallist Max Whitlock manages to balance his schedule: not only has he been training for the Olympics, but he's also been planning his upcoming wedding.

Whitlock, 23, became engaged to his long-term girlfriend, 24-year-old Leah Hickton, in June. The young couple have been together for nearly nine years, and met through their love of gymnastics.

They show that couples who handstand together, stay together.

This isn't the only thing Whitlock has to celebrate: his bronze at Rio makes him the first British athlete to win a medal in the men's all-around gymnastics since 1908 - no mean feat.

Hickton decided not to travel to Rio due to fears over the Zika virus, but was glued to the television as the action unfolded. When Whitlock's success was confirmed she was quick to send him a message of congratulations.

Max Whitlock competes.
(David Davies/PA)

She said: "I think I put something like, 'You're an absolute star'. I can't even remember. I don't know. I sent the message straight away and I don't even think about what I'm writing. As soon as the result came in I sent it straight away."

Talking about planning the wedding, Hickton said: "I looked a lot online and then I went to have a look at the wedding venue first just to see if I liked it, and then when he had one day off we went up there to have a look at the venue, and he liked it as much as I did so we booked it."

She added: "I think sometimes it's good to kind of do something else and you switch off a little bit. So he's really enjoyed looking at some of the wedding stuff with me. We've just done it in spare time really."

Hickton teaches gymnastics at the South Essex Gymnastics Club, and the couple live together in Basildon.

She said this is this is one of the longest periods of time the couple have ever spent apart.

Asked if she had any regrets about not going to Rio, she said: "You always want to be there, especially when they achieve something like this. But we know it's the right decision not to go."

The couple will certainly have a lot to celebrate when they are reunited, and Whitlock will have to swap his leotard for a wedding suit.