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A display full of elegance and grace allowed Margarita Mamun from Russia to capture the individual all-around gold ahead of her compatriote Yana Kudryavtseva, the triple world champion in the discipline.
Despite owning a haul of seven world titles, 20-year-old Mamun had long lived in the shadow of her younger rival. She had arrived in Rio never having won a world all-around title against Kudryavtseva’s three. A total score of 76.483 carried Mamun to the top of the podium after Kudryavtseva’s clubs routine went wrong in its final seconds. After her mistake, Mamun had to avoid any glaring errors to secure gold. She left her competitors chasing shadows by producing four dazzling routines.
Mamun didn’t know she had overtaken her team-mate at first: “It was quite unexpected for me to win the gold medal because all of the competitions like today, Yana Kudryavtseva used to win. That's why I wasn't thinking about winning the gold medal. I wasn’t aware of her mistakes because we were in different places at that time. I was changing my costume and Yana was performing. I only got the chance to see the scores after we had both done our ribbon routine.”
“I was just trying not to make any mistakes and listen to the instructions of my coach. I was trying to be as calm as possible and as focused as possible. That helped me give such a good performance,” she added. Mamun’s medal is the fifth consecutive gold for Russia in individual all-around.
At the halfway point of the competition Kudryavtseva, dubbed the ‘angel with iron wings’, fluttered above the rest of the field with top marks in the hoop and ball. Throwing the club high into the air, she rolled over on the floor, ready to catch it as she went to strike her final pose, only to have the apparatus land beyond her reach. Her low clubs score of 17.833 allowed Mamun to overtake her. Another top mark of 19.250 with the ribbon was not enough to catch up as Kudryavtseva settled for silver with a total of 75.608.
She described her miscalculation in the clubs routine: “It all happened very quickly and I didn’t manage to find a way to solve the mistake. That’s why I lost the club. I’ve been competing for 13 years, so of course this has happened before. At the end of the routine, I realised I was not going to win the gold medal. That's why emotionally I was a little bit more relaxed and I was competing for myself, my coach and the spectators. I wanted to give them a good performance.”
Ukraine's Ganna Rizatdinova edged out Son Yeon-jae of the Republic of Korea for bronze. Rizatdinova described the pressure she felt going into her final routine: “When I was going into my last routine with the ribbon I realised that there was a high chance that I could be in third place. I know that if I would have dropped the ribbon once, I would have not won a bronze medal. I let go of the situation, just did my job and I’m glad I succeeded. Believe it or not, even if you win a silver or bronze, it still means a gold to the person who wins it.”