Uchimura aims to win Olympic All-Around gold
RIO DE JANEIRO (BRA), AGU Office Aug 10, 2016: Kohei Uchimura lived up to his ‘King’ moniker with a supreme horizontal bar routine to snatch gymnastics all-around gold away from Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev on Wednesday.
The Japanese superstar trailed by almost a point heading into the final rotation, but it pitted him against Verniaiev on his rival’s least-favoured apparatus and one which Uchimura is world champion in.
Verniaiev was a stuck landing away from causing a huge upset in the event, but he stumbled on dismount, after Uchimura had piled on the pressure with an enormous score of 15.800.
The turnaround meant Uchimura won by just .099 of a point. Great Britain’s Max Whitlock took bronze behind the leading pair.
Whitlock had run Uchimura closer than anyone in the latter’s career when finishing almost one and a half points outside gold at the 2014 World Championship, but Verniaiev brought the heat like nobody before him, superlative routines in the rings and horizontal bars setting up the tensest of finales.
Such a climax looked unlikely when Uchimura began his work with a stunning 15.766 on the floor, while Whitlock began on his favoured pommel horse, registering 15.875.
Verniaiev’s consistency kept him in contention, as he racked up the second-highest score on pommel horse and led in the rings to ensure Uchimura lost ground.
When the Ukrainian took 0.500 points out of the reigning champion on parallel bars, the scent of surprise was rich in the air, although Verniaiev’s relative weakness on horizontal bar kept Uchimura in the hunt.
And how he took advantage, producing a stunning routine of poise and breath-taking changes in direction to put Verniaiev in need of replicating the 14.900 he had managed at last year’s European Games.
A solid routine – lacking his predecessor’s fireworks but impressive nonetheless – just needed a solid landing, but a stumble off the bars ensured Uchimura’s legacy remains intact.
His third Olympic gold medal puts him two behind his country’s most decorated gymnast in the Games – Takashi Ono – with an individual floor final to follow at Rio 2016 as well as potential crowning glory on home turf in four years’ time.