Max Whitlock narrowly misses out on World Championships bronze

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter in Antwerp
GB's Whitlock misses out medal

Britain's Max Whitlock came agonisingly close to winning bronze in a superb World Gymnastics all-around final.

The 20-year-old double Olympic bronze medallist was only 0.301 points off the podium as Japan's Kohei Uchimura won his fourth straight title.

Ryohei Kato completed a Japan one-two in Antwerp ahead of Germany's Fabian Hambuechen, while British 22-year-old Dan Purvis was seventh.

"That was amazing. Uchimura is unbelievable," said Whitlock.

World Gymnastics: Japan's Kohei Uchimura wins fourth world title

"It's a pleasure to compete against him."

Olympic champion Uchimura was widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time even before he added a record fourth consecutive world title in Belgium.

The 24-year-old's final score of 91.990 put him almost two marks clear of Kato in a contest of the highest quality.

Whitlock, from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, took an early lead with an exceptional pommel-horse routine that scored 15.633.

Having won bronze medals in the team and pommel horse events at London 2012, Whitlock finished his first world final with 15.266 on the floor, a discipline in which he is the European champion.

But Hambuechen deprived the Briton of third place with a spell-binding rearguard action. Having earlier disappointed on the pommel horse, the German scored a staggering 15.933 on the high bar to snatch bronze.

"For my first experience at a world championships it was amazing and hopefully I can get that experience again," Whitlock told BBC Sport.

Liverpool gymnast Purvis similarly excelled, trailing Whitlock by a narrow margin throughout to finish with 88.106 - good enough for seventh place, behind Whitlock's 89.031.

"It was a big aim to try to get in the top eight," said Purvis. "It was a fantastic atmosphere and to go round with Max was ace.

"Especially after the Olympics it's always hard to pick yourself up but two British lads coming into the final is fantastic."

Sam Mikulak of the United States had looked set to win a medal but lost his nerve in his final routine, on the high bar, and finished sixth.

Daniel Keatings was Britain's last world all-around medallist, taking silver behind Uchimura in 2009.

Though the code of points used to score gymnasts' routines has changed slightly since then, it speaks to the high standard of this year's final that Keatings' score for silver in 2009 - 88.925 - would have put him in fifth, below Whitlock, in Antwerp.

That 2009 final, at London's O2 Arena, was the only other occasion in which two British men have finished in the world all-around top eight - Kristian Thomas finished sixth four years ago.

Both Whitlock and Purvis are back in action in Saturday's individual event finals, with Whitlock considered a leading contender in the pommel horse final and Purvis - a former world bronze medallist in 2010 - competing in his favoured floor event.

"I'm really happy with what I have done here so I am looking forward to it," Whitlock said of his final.

"I had a quick practice here as I tried my big [pommel horse] routine so I'm just looking forward to it."

Britain's Rebecca Tunney and Ruby Harrold compete in Friday's women's all-around final, which features Russia's Aliya Mustafina and US duo Simone Biles and Kyla Ross.