Japan's Uchimura ends China's reign
Kohei Uchimura and his Japanese team-mates stormed to gold in the men’s artistic gymnastics team competition.
Four years after Uchimura's botched dismount from the pommel horse almost denied Japan a team medal at the London Games, it seemed as if the curse might have struck again when Koi Yamamuro lost his grip and rolled off the apparatus.
However, unlike four years ago when Japan ended up with silver behind China, Yamamuro's score of 13.900 was the only blip in an otherwise commanding performance.
The Japanese posted a total of 274.094 to run away with the gold medal. In a sport where fractions often decide titles, their total was a massive 2.641 points more than surprise silver medallists Russia.
Meanwhile, the defending champions China, who were top in qualifying, looked to be in danger of missing out on the medals completely when a series of errors on the vault, rings and floor exercise left them trailing in fifth place with two rotations to go. However, they surged back with a strong showing in the parallel bars to claim bronze with a total of 271.122.
For all Uchimura's success over the years, the men's Olympic team gold was the one major medal from missing from an extensive collection of honours, which includes the 2012 all-around title, a record six successive world all around golds and the 2015 world team crown.
“The team has finally won a gold medal,” he enthused. “Winning gold at the Olympics is incredibly difficult, that is what I realised. Given that it's the Olympics, I feel great satisfaction getting the gold medal.”
In Rio, Uchimura was joined by fellow London 2012 veterans Yamamuro, Ryohei Kato, Yusuke Tanaka, and Olympic debutant Kenzo Shirai. The quintet celebrated their victory by raising their index fingers aloft to confirm their new found status as men’s gymnastics number one collective.
Meanwhile, Ivan Stretovich said that Russia’s silver medal also represented a major landmark. “We've got medals in European and world championships but Russia hasn't won [a team medal] at the Olympic games for 16 years. We are really excited that we did it."
Great Britain, the USA, Brazil, Germany and Ukraine completed the standings in the final.