INTERVIEW: Olympian Max Whitlock MBE on why he chose BTEC

Max Whitlock MBE, Britain’s first male gymnastics double gold winning Olympian and double World Champion says doing a BTEC in sport helped him juggle school life with his training.

He made history when he won gold on the floor at the Rio 2016 games and triumphed on the pommel horse less than two hours later. His achievements won recognition from the Queen in her New Year’s honours list. 

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"A BTEC for me was a no brainer...

We caught up with Max as he launched the national BTEC Awards 2018 at the ICC in Birmingham.

The 24 year old spent up to 35 hours a week in the gym while he was at school and says he found it really tough balancing schoolwork with his gymnastics career. 

 “That’s why doing a BTEC sport qualification really helped me,” he said. "A BTEC for me was a no brainer because I found it the best way of learning and the quickest way of learning and that’s why it really suited me.”

Max says the course-based work helped too. “I knew what I had to do and I knew when I needed to get it done and it was about working at my own individual rate to make sure I did that with all the pressures of everything else that was going on around me.”

Looking back on his school days the gymnast, who recently retained his world title says the BTEC was the best way of learning for him and that the skills he learnt while doing it still help him now.

“What really helps me now is time management and actually hitting deadlines which I think can help anyone, but for me it’s helped massively because I can compare it exactly to what I do in gymnastics. It’s about preparing and training, in school it was about working on my coursework to make sure that when I got to the final stage and it needed to be handed in or I needed to show my routine or I had a competition coming up that I was ready, so time management and working towards deadlines helped me a lot.”

Max would recommend a BTEC to any young person especially if like him they have lots of things going on outside school. 

“I had the pressures of competitions and at the end of your BTEC it feels like you’re working towards something while you’re doing it and you gain a qualification while you’re doing it and you don’t have the stress of an exam at the end of it. That’s what really suited me as well because for me it was about taking as much pressure off outside of gymnastics and everywhere else.

Max was interviewed by Shane Mann, managing director at LSECT. Max is a BTEC Ambassador for Pearson qualifications.

SportWeb editor