Yesterday, in a tie-break, Artur Dalaloyan (RUS) edged defending world champion Xiao Ruoteng (CHN) for the All-around title at the 2018 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Doha (QAT), ending a 19-year gold medal drought for the Russian men in the All-around at the world championships. His teammate Nikita Nagornyy claimed bronze for Russia (FIG, 2018).
Dalaloyan’s victory also snapped a 13-year winning streak by Asia in the men’s All-around event, as Chinese and Japanese gymnasts won every world and Olympic All-around title for men from 2005 to 2017.
Day off pays off for Dalaloyan
Dalaloyan skipped training Tuesday after Monday’s team final in Doha, where he fell off Parallel Bars and his team lost the gold to China by .049. On Wednesday, Dalaloyan sat in second after his 14.800 on Floor Exercise in the first rotation, but fell down the standings with just a 13.400 on Pommel Horse. He climbed his way back up thanks to a superb piked handspring double front vault (Blanik) for 15.133 and a nailed routine on Parallel Bars (15.566). He finished with a clean routine on Horizontal Bar that proved enough to take victory with 87.598.
“I had only one goal, and that was to perform my job from beginning to end without mistakes,” Dalaloyan said of his approach. “I’m just so happy. I can’t believe it yet. I need to probably go to my hotel, take a deep breath and realise that yes, I won this championship.”
Dalaloyan is the second world All-around champion for the Russian men and first since Nikolai Kryukov won in 1999 in Tianjin (CHN).
Xiao settles for second
Xiao, the defending champion from the 2017 Worlds in Montreal (CAN) and the top qualifier in Doha, turned in the most consistent performance of the medallists, with scores ranging from 14.133 on Floor Exercise to 15.333 on Parallel Bars. After falling on Horizontal Bar in the team final, Xiao hit his set but was unable to stick his dismount. His score of 14.233 tied him with Dalaloyan, but the tie-break procedure – in which only the top five scores are counted – left him in second, 74.198 to 73.465.
“I feel pity about that,” Xiao said, “but I respect the judges and my rival. I basically want to be number one but anyway I am still happy with the result.”
Nagornyy holds on for bronze
Second to Xiao in qualification, Nagornyy turned in big scores on Floor Exercise (where he tumbled the final’s only triple back), Still Rings and Vault. He fought through his exercise on Pommel Horse but stayed on and struggled to land cleanly on his Parallel Bars dismount, and made it through his final routine on Horizontal Bar without major errors for 13.900 and a total of 86.331. Though happy to win the bronze, Nagornyy said he empathised with American Sam Mikulak, whose mistake on Horizontal Bar in the final rotation allowed Nagornyy to medal instead.
Nagornyy thought hard when asked to whom he dedicated his medal, looking down at the bronze for some time before deciding.
“If I had won the gold, I would have dedicated it to my whole team,” he said. “Instead, I dedicate it to my first coach, Olga Ivanovna Nechepurenko.”
The medals for Dalaloyan and Nagornyy are the first for the Russian men in the All-around since the late Yuri Ryazanov won bronze in 2009 in London (GBR).
Mikulak, third in qualification, had an excellent meet until stumbling in the sixth event. A slip of the grip on Horizontal Bar dropped him from third to fifth, behind fourth-place Sun Wei (CHN). Kazuma Kaya (JPN) finished sixth ahead of defending bronze medallist Kenzo Shirai (JPN), who earned the top scores of the day on Floor Exercise (14.900) and Vault (15.166).
James Hall (GBR) finished eighth. Ninth-place Artur Davtyan (ARM), who had originally been the first reserve athlete, and Marios Georgiou (CYP), 10th, turned in record results for their respective nations.
Competition continues Thursday afternoon in Doha with the women’s All-around final.
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