Max Whitlock became the first British gymnast to defend a world title when he claimed victory in the men’s pommel final at the World Championships in Montreal.

The double Olympic champion delivered his big routine to score a huge 15.441, exceeding his qualification score of 15.300, and easily beating Russia’s David Belyavskiy into silver.

The 24-year-old, who became Britain’s first male world champion on the same apparatus in Glasgow two years ago, also matches the five career world medals won by Beth Tweddle and Louis Smith.

It was a typically dominant performance from Whitlock and a fitting stage to make more gymnastics history, 41 years after Nadia Comaneci’s string of perfect 10s in the same arena.

Starting seventh of the eight finalists in a random draw, Whitlock nailed his routine to eclipse the previous best of 15.100 set by Belyavskiy, while a mistake by Oleg Verniaiev cost the Ukrainian contender the chance to threaten the lead.

Watching on, Comaneci must have been impressed by Whitlock’s mastery of his apparatus, all the more in the wake of an uncharacteristic attack of nerves during qualifying, which ended his chances of reaching the floor final.

A rare spell away from the gym in the wake of his Rio heroics had left Whitlock racing against time to nail the upgrades he desired in order to keep one step ahead of his rivals.

It was one of the reasons why the Briton has temporarily paused his quest to build on the all-around bronze medal he won in Rio in order to focus solely on his favourite two pieces of apparatus.

If his new floor routine presented evident problems it was a different story on the pommel, on which he has proved utterly dominant since he first emerged from the shadows of his GB team-mate Louis Smith.

Smith had taken his first world medal on the pommel with bronze in Stuttgart in 2007, when Whitlock was a 14-year-old junior still more than two years from making an impact on the big stage.

But Whitlock’s irresistible rise culminated in him beating Smith to take gold in Glasgow, a feat he would repeat in the course of two tumultuous hours in Rio forcing Smith once again to settle for silver.

Such is Whitlock’s current domination of the apparatus that future medals appear inevitable, with the Hemel Hempstead-born star confirming he is already focused on both the 2020 Olympics and beyond.

Whitlock told Press Association Sport: “I was pretty nervous and I had to wait a long time out there before I started, but I wasn’t as nervous as qualification.

“It made me more nervous when I realised I could be the first (Briton) to retain a world title. It means so much every time you make history for your country and to do it again at these World Championships is a dream.

“To be honest it’s been quite a stressful build-up for me this year because I haven’t been as confident as I would have liked. So to do this off the back of the 2015 world title and Rio last year is extra-special.”