Deng Linlin and Feng Zhe Give china gold medals
LONDON (GBR), AGU Office, August 8, 2012: Feng Zhe of China claimed gold with a score of 15.966 in the parallel bars Olympic final.
German Marcel Nguyen scored 15.800 to earn a silver, with Hamilton Sabot’s 15.566 winning France a bronze.
Feng, world champion in 2010, was second up of the nine finalists and set the benchmark score with an impressive performance on the apparatus.
Nguyen came closest to dislodging the Chinese, while Sabot, who had qualified in last place, held on for third spot.
“China will be absolutely thrilled to have that gold medal,” said BBC Sport’s gymnastics commentator Christine Still.
“They felt they lost out on the rings on Monday. Marcel Nguyen has been the success story for the German team who haven’t done so great otherwise.”
Brothers Kazuhito and Yusuke Tanaka of Japan were the top two qualifiers but finished fourth
The men’s high bar final provided the most sensational spectacle the North Greenwich Arena has yet witnessed, as Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands reached stratospheric heights to take the gold. Zonderland became the first ever male gymnast to win a medal for his country, and he did it with the kind of style that would earn him instant entry to the Dangerous Sports Club, not to mention British Airways’ frequent flyer programme.
Changes to the rules have encouraged more and more acrobatic activity on this apparatus and this competition was a must-see from the start. The US gymnast Danell Leyva’s difficulty level of 7.2 would usually be considered eyewatering – but the stakes just kept rising. By the time Zou Kai, the defending Olympic and world champion, had been awarded a 7.9 for difficulty, it was impossible to imagine what could top it.
Then came Fabian Hambüchen, the German whose arms look suspiciously like legs. He yelled in triumph at the end of a breathtaking display that took him into first place, only to be followed immediately by Zonderland, aka the Flying Dutchman, whose daredevilry will go down as the Comaneci/Korbut moment of these Olympics.
Zonderland’s victory was the most spectacular of a day that also brought first gold medals for China’s Feng Zhe and Sui Lu – on Men’s Parallel Bars and Women’s Beam respectively – before Aly Raisman’s triumph on Floor ended the Games on a winning note for USA.
China finished with four golds to the United States’ three at the top of the medal standings but for the Dutch fans inside the arena, just the one was enough after Zonderland’s historic feat. “I still can’t believe it,” said the 26-year-old. “It’s unique to be in an Olympic final if you’re a Dutch gymnast, and winning the gold is bizarre. I worked so long to achieve a result like this.”
Zonderland’s gold – the Netherlands’ first gymnastics medal of any kind since the Dutch women won the 1928 Team event – was his reward for a routine that showcased a thrilling triple somersault combination.
It earned him 16.533 points – 7.900 in difficulty and 8.633 in execution – and took him past Fabian Hambuchen, the bronze medallist in Beijing who had to settle for silver but had no complaints. “Epke performed a fantastic routine. We have been friends for over 10 years. I am very happy for him,” said the German.
Hambuchen himself earned the highest execution score of the final (8.9) as he collected 16.400 points to push defending champion Zou Kai into the bronze medal position. A disappointed Zou said: “Today my performance wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t stable and I lost balance.”
Deng, herself world champion on the apparatus in 2009, gave China their fourth gymnastics gold medal of the Games, an hour after Feng Zhe had won the parallel bars title.
Sui, competing first, pulled off a difficult routine but cried on her coach’s shoulder after Deng surpassed her by 0.1 points with a score of 15.600 at the North Greenwich Arena.
Aly Raisman snatched the bronze medal from 2004 champion Catalina Ponor of Romania on a tiebreak after the judges increased the difficulty element of her score following a review requested by the United States team, upping her final mark.
While Ponor, who came out of retirement last year, left the arena stony-faced after being demoted to fourth, the American was all smiles having just missed out on all-around bronze because of the same tiebreak rule last Thursday.
Introduced at the behest of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to rule out double medals, the system takes into account execution scores to separate two gymnasts who accumulate the same total. The rule gave the edge to Raisman by 0.3.
Deng was part of the Chinese line-up who won team gold in Beijing four years ago and who faced allegations of fielding under-age gymnasts, charges the 2008 hosts denied.
The 1.46-metre gymnast, whose age is officially given as 20, produced a routine full of difficult combinations, finishing with two backflips, a double-pike dismount and a huge smile as she saluted the judges.
She said the gold medal compensated for disappointment in the team event when she fell from the beam and China finished fourth.
“After the team event I was depressed,” she told reporters through an interpreter. “Motivation for this event came from my coach and other team mates so I was able to recover and prepare for this.”
American Gabby Douglas, who dazzled to win the all-around title here, finished seventh after missing her footing on a half-turn and swinging underneath the 10-centimetre wide beam before falling off.
All-around silver medallist Victoria Komova also came off, remounted and then sat down on landing. She finished last of the eight finalists, with 13.166.
Komova, daughter of 1985 world team champion Vera Kolesnikova, told reporters: “I was not very lucky at these Olympics. I failed them 100 percent.
“I don’t know if I will continue sports,” added the 17-year-old, who cried after finishing second in the all-around and team events last week.
“I will go back home take some time off and think through the situation. My parents say everything is okay, but I don’t feel that.”
Larisa Iordache, who helped Romania to win team bronze, came into the final as a replacement for injured compatriot Diana Bulimar but she also fell, toppling off the end of the apparatus as she finished sixth.
“I think they were arguing about my full turn and not giving me the connection,” explained Raisman, who completed an afternoon she will never forget by winning gold on Floor – the first American to do so. “I went out into the next event with a really good feeling. It was the best routine I’ve ever done.”
Raisman scored 15.600 for a high-energy performance to the Hebrew folk song Hava Nagila, which was particularly notable for the smoothness of her tumbling. It meant that once again she got the better of Ponor, who had to settle for the silver. Having also won gold in the Team event, Raisman turned up in the press conference room with three medals jangling around her neck. “Today a dream has come true,” she said.
Ponor will have felt differently. The Romanian produced a sophisticated performance to Fever but her difficulty was 0.3 less and her tumbling less tidy and she scored 15.200. The 24-year-old – a triple gold medallist at Athens 2004 – described the result of the beam as “disappointing” yet she had no regrets about her decision to come out of retirement and return to the Olympic stage. “I have already been an Olympic champion. I will quit gymnastics with my head held high.”
Aliya Mustafina of Russia collected the bronze on a tie-break with Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari – outscoring her for execution after the pair were level on 14.900 points. It was Mustafina’s fourth medal in London and the second won on a tie-break after she denied Raisman the All-around bronze. She described her success as “unexpected”, adding: “It’s a great pleasure to win so many medals for my country.”