Takeru Kitazono’s brilliant performance seals artistic gymnastics gold
Kitazono, who turns 16 on October 21, and who is already nicknamed in his country the "new Uchimura" in reference to Kohei Uchimura, a triple Olympic champion and ten times world champion, was joined on the podium by Russian Sergei Nadin and Brazilian Diogo Soares.
After shining in qualifying at the Multi-Disciplinary Mixed Team competition held the previous day (All-Around, Pommel Horse, Parallel Bars, Rings and Bar), Kitazono performed brilliantly in the all-around final in front of a big crowd.
Kitazono obtained the best scores on the ground (13,833), on the rings (13,466) and on the bar (13,800). He also finished second on pommel horse and fourth on vault. His lowest finish, ninth, came on parallel bars, but his total score of 82.298 gave him a big win ahead of Nadin (80.498) and Soares (80.265). Kitazono is now the second Japanese competitor, after Yuya Kamoto in Singapore in 2010, to win the individual general competition at the Youth Olympic Games.
“I'm really pleased to have achieved what I expected to do," said Kitazono, who was part of the winning Japanese team in the overall competition at the 2017 Kazakhstan World Junior Championships. "To be honest, It's also a big relief. It's great to have won this medal and I hope to add more in the apparatus finals.”
Brazil's Soares reached the podium thanks to consistency across the disciplines, albeit by a slender margin! He finished just 0.134 points ahead of USA’s Brandon Briones and in doing so, his surprising bronze was enough to attract huge attention from the South American media. Soares had qualified for the final in sixth place, but is now the first Brazilian medal winner in the all-around competition at the Youth Olympic Games. "The more interviews I give, the more I realize I won bronze here!" He exclaimed. "My dream is no longer a dream, it has come true and I have given everything to win this medal."
China’s Yin Dehang, who qualified for the final in third place, fell during his practice on the ground and thus dropped out of the running, despite having finished first at pommel horse.
Iran's Reze Bohloulzade Hajlar, who placed 13th, was the first gymnast in her country to qualify for an all-around final at the YOG. "To have competed in this is a great experience,” she said. “I was able to follow the medal match, it was really cool!"
Artistic Gymnastics competitions continue with the Individual All-Around competition, which takes place on Friday, October 12th at 5pm at the Pavilion of America.