Uladzislau Hancharou of Belarus upstaged world champion Gao Lei and 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dong Dong to soar to victory in the trampoline gymnastics at Rio 2016.
The 24-year-old Belarusian posted a final score of 61.745 to thwart reigning champion Dong, who was bidding to become the first man to win back-to-back trampoline Olympic golds. Dong’s compatriot Gao, who had himself harboured high hopes of gold after posting the best score in qualifying, had to settle for the bronze.
Hancharou, who had never previously won an international competition, performed four high-flying triple somersaults to become the first gymnast from his country to win a trampoline medal of any colour.
“I did my usual routine and at the end I felt very good. It was an explosion of feelings,” said the Belarusian, who punched the air in delight on realising he had done enough to win gold. “When I started I never even dreamed that I would make it to the Belarusian national team level.”
A gracious Dong sportingly gave his Belarusian rival’s performance the thumbs-up when he realised he had been overtaken at the top of the standings. Although his bid to win back-to-back Olympic golds was thwarted, the 27-year-old did become the first man to win trampoline medals at three different editions of the Games.
"I feel very proud and satisfied with my performance today,” said Dong. “My competitors are all excellent and performed well… I've been to three Olympic Games, and I have now collected all three medals: the bronze, the gold and now the silver. I'm super happy about that. I feel very content and proud to be a role model in trampoline gymnastics,” he added. “I also really enjoyed the Olympic Games, especially today at this venue where I got a lot of support from the spectators. I think I delivered a high-quality performance.”