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Favourites prevail in men’s rings and vault

15 Aug 2016
RIO 2016 , Olympic News, Gymnastics Artistic
Eleftherios Petrounias triumphed in rings with a score of 16.000, while Ri Se-gwang took vault gold despite a stumble.

Eleftherios Petrounias showed off his superior power in the Olympic gymnastics strongman event as he edged out local favourite and 2012 champion Arthur Zanetti to take the rings gold medal. The Greek added the Rio Games title to his world and European crowns with a score of 16.000. Brazilian Zanetti lost out on the top prize by 0.234 while Russia's Denis Abliazin had to settle for bronze.

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Petrounias delivered a routine that combined moments of perfect stillness with a rapid series of somersaults, his body unfurling like a ribbon. There was not a wobble in sight as he held on to the Maltese cross — where a gymnast holds the rings with his body lined up horizontally — for what seemed an eternity before flowing into a number of handstands. His face quivered with the effort, and every vein and sinew stood out in his arms as he held himself in the cross position.

Uncoiling for the final time, he launched himself into his dismount and on nailing it he saluted the crowd with a raised fist, confident he would become the first Greek since Dimosthenis Tampakos in 2004 to win the rings. Six more competitors followed but none came close to breaching the 16-point barrier, despite Zanetti being roared on to the rings with chants of “Brazil-Brazil-Brazil”. It was Greece's second gold in Rio. 

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"We worked very much in the details and to be stable and keep my face without expression, so this is a big deal to not move and hold the positions a little bit more than normal. And if you have a good landing, as I had, I think I might have been the only one who stuck it, that's how the 16 came. That was my goal from the beginning, my 16,” the Olympic champion said.

Second gymnastics gold for Democratic People's Republic Of Korea

Despite a big stumble backwards after his first soaring leap, Ri Se-gwang became the first male gymnast from Democratic People's Republic Of Korea to win the Olympic vault title and second to win the medal in the sport, following the success of Pae Gil-Su on the pommel horse at the 1992 Barcelona Games. 

“I had the confidence that I could win. With that confidence I came to Brazil. I think I was able to come to where I am thanks to the great support and encouragement from my coach and from my team-mate,” said Ri, who described it as the greatest moment of his career and hoped his medal would bring joy to his supporters back home. 

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The 31-year-old from Pyongyang stuttered backwards following his first vault - a piked double front summersault with half twist. The effort earned him 15.616. He also stepped backwards from his second vault. But there was so much difficulty packed into his Tsukahara full-twisting double back effort — a skill which he invented — that the flawed landing had a limited effect on his score. He was awarded 15.766.

Ri beat Russia's Denis Abliazin by 0.175. Japan's Kenzo Shirai won bronze with 15.449. He edged out 35-year-old Romanian Marian Dragulescu on the tie-break rule after both earned the same average score.

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