Essex gymnast Max Whitlock won an historic third Olympic gold medal with a brilliant pommel horse routine in Tokyo.

The Basildon-based Olympian, who performed his routine first out of the eight finalists, scored an outstanding 15.583 to become a triple-Olympic champion.

He finished ahead of fellow competitors, Lee Chih Kai of Chinese Taipei and Kazuma Kaya of Japan, who took silver and bronze.

Whitlock, 28, prepared for the Olympics at South Essex Gymnastics club in Basildon, where he has trained since the age of 13.

He faced an agonising wait as his seven competitors took to the pommel horse to perform their routines, but Whitlock’s 7.000 score for difficulty, combined with a score of 8.583 for execution, saw him become Britain’s most decorated gymnast.

Irishman Rhys McClenaghan had been touted as Whitlock’s closest challenger, but a fall early on in his routine saw him score only 13.100.