Six-time all-around world champion Kohei Uchimura held off strong challenge from Ukraine’s Oleg Vernyayev to take his second consecutive Olympic gold in gymnastics at the Rio Games.
The 27-year-old Japanese was second behind Vernyayev in Sunday’s qualification after falling off the high bar, but still considered as the favorite to win in the final, reports Xinhua.
As the reigning European champion and 2014 world champion on parallel bars, Vernyayev snatched the lead on Wednesday after the third rotation and extended his advantage to 0.901 points before the last routine thanks to his convincing performance on parallel bars, which earned him a all-high of 16.100 points.
Uchimura showed his best on the last apparatus of high bar with a routine of 7.100 difficulty in great quality, scoring 15.800 points.
Entering the field as the closing gymnast, Vernyayev needed 14.899 points to clinch the gold. With a routine of 6.500 difficulty, a small jump forward cost him the top podium in landing as the judges decided a score of 14.800 points, leaving Uchimura cheering and Vernyayev apparently stunned in remorse.
"Oleg achieved an incredible score. I knew that although high bar is one of my favorite, I have to achieve a certain score. I just perform as usual. I was calm and I think that’s really my key to success," said Uchimura, whose had a total score of 92.365 points.
"Since 2009 this event’s title has been remaining with me. I have to defend it again, but today it is very tricky. The final high bar score was extremely great. I’m happy with my result. Even if I lose the gold, I would not be disappointed," said the Japanese, who had the leading scores in high bar, floor and vault.
Since winning his first all-around world title in 2009, Uchimura has swept all the all-around gold medals both in the world championships and Olympic Games.
"After the parallel bars I didn’t even see the score. When I return to the high bar, I didn’t check it either. I did my best and leave it to the judges," said Vernyayev, who finished 11th in the all-around event at the 2012 London Games.
Britain’s Max Whitlock took the bronze medal with a score of 90.641.
"I’m proud of what I’ve done today. Doing six pieces right is a very tough job. I’ve come third to two outstanding gymnasts. I’m relieved and excited. I stand here proud," Whitlock said.