Japanese star Daiki Hashimoto defended his title at the world gymnastics championships on Thursday, overcoming an early mistake on floor exercise to become the first athlete to win back-to-back world all-around titles in eight years.
The 22-year-old Hashimoto posted a total of 86.132, over a point clear of Illia Kovtun of Ukraine at 84.998. American teenager Fred Richard, a sophomore at Michigan, earned a surprising bronze at 84.332.
Hashimoto finished third in qualifying behind teammates Kenta Chiba and Kazuma Kaya, meaning he did not automatically earn a berth in the finals because of rules that limit each country to two entries. Hashimoto ended up taking Kaya’s spot, a decision the Japanese delegation made unanimously in deference to Hashimoto, who won the all-around gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
Hashimoto struggled on the floor exercise to start the finals, his lone misstep on a night in which he showed again that he is the rightful heir atop the sport following countryman Kohei Uchimura, a two-time Olympic and six-time world champion. Hashimoto became the first man to win consecutive world all-around titles since Uchimura went back-to-back in 2014 and ’15.
Richard became the first U.S. male gymnast to finish in the top three in the all-around since Jonathan Horton earned a bronze in 2010. He did it despite a mistake on high bar during the final rotation that sent him tumbling to the mat. Richard collected himself to finish his routine and appeared to be resigned to finishing off the podium, telling a nearby camera, “It’s part of the journey.”
Just not the end of it.
Miscues by the others hoping to stand with Hashimoto during the awards ceremony — namely Chiba and Sun Wei of China — opened the door for Richard to become the youngest American man ever to win an individual medal at worlds. And it came two days after Richard helped the U.S. win bronze in the team finals, the first time the Americans have finished in the top three in a major international competition since 2014.
AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports
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