All eyes will be on Xiao — King Kohei’s worthy successor

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Doha: After winning the All-Around title at the 47th FIG World Championships last October, China’s Xiao Ruoteng was mobbed by fans on a cool afternoon at the lawn of the iconic 1976 Olympic Stadium in in Montreal, Canada.
Xiao, who became the first Chinese to win a gold at a top global individual all-around competition since Yang Wei achieved the feat at the 2008 Beijing Games, will be one of the stars at the 11th FIG Artistic Individual World Cup, which starts here at the Aspire Dome from March 21-24.
“It feels good to be a world champion,” he had said in an interview to www.agu.gymnastics.com. “To be able to defend the crown in the next edition in Doha in October will be a challenge. It needs a lot of hard work and motivation.”
Given the presence of the legend Kohei Uchimura, Xiao, 22, will have his task cut out, but age will be on his side.
While the 28-year-old ‘King Kohei’ would be hoping to revive his form and fitness at the venue which will host the 48th FIG World Championships in October, Xiao will look to further strengthen his position as China prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Xiao, who also won the pommel horse bronze at the Worlds, has slowly developed into a world champion ever since he won his maiden medal at the 2015 Glasgow Worlds with the Chinese team, which finished third.
Despite not being chosen for the 2016 Rio Games, Xiao returned with a bang with loads of confidence the following year, winning three gold (team, pommel horse and all-around) and two silver medals (floor and horizontal) at the Bangkok Asian Championships.
The Beijing-born gymnast is undoubtedly the next biggest star, but we will have to wait to watch how he fares at the Doha event.