Uchimura is World Champion!
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Japan’s Kohei Uchimura reigned supreme with a commanding performance to claim his first all-around World Championship title. Great Britain’s Daniel Keatings won silver, thrilling the hometown crowd throughout the competition and Russia’s Yury Ryazanov earned bronze. American Tim McNeill was in the mix for bronze throughout the competition, but ended up in seventh while teammate Jonathan Horton struggled for a 17th place finish. The scores for the medalists were 91.500, 88.925, and 88.400.
Uchimura ended the day on high bar where his releases moves were symbolic of the day and of his gymnastics. His layout Kovacs soared above the bar just as he had towered over the field and the kick-out and textbook technique on all of his releases (Kovacs, Kolman) was representative of his signature style which has a look all unto itself. Uchimura began the day on floor, grouped along with the other top finishers from the qualification round. His triple twist floated in the air to a perfect landing. On each event, he appeared absolutely confident and secure in his sets and competed with a paced rhythm that allowed each skill to paint its own picture. The favorite coming into these Championships, the silver medalist from the 2008 Olympics served noticed that he’ll be the one to catch en route to London 2012 (which will be contested in this very venue).
Home-crowd favorite Keatings gave the enthusiastic British faithful just what they wanted: a thrilling fight to the finish that resulted in a podium position. As Keatings landed his full twisting double layout dismount on high bar, his final event, his face said it all: relief. That expression encapsulating the weight of expectations that he clearly felt. During each of his routines, the crowd seemed to be holding its breath with every one of his moves before finally erupting in excitement following each routine. Only 19-years-old, Keatings had some of the most impressive routines in terms of difficulty, combined with attention to detail in his execution. One can only imagine the confidence and motivation that he should take from this experience in preparing for 2012.
Ryazanov had a nice level of difficulty (finished the day with a floor set that included a front layout to front double twist; Arabian double; 2 ½ twist) but was not nearly as polished as Keating and Uchimura.
American Tim McNeill was in contention to challenge for a medal, but lost some ground on his final two events, p-bars and high bar, where he seemed to rush through his normally calm, composed sets taking deductions for elements throughout. Still, a seventh place finish on the world stage demonstrates that McNeil can compete with the best. This event will also help to continue to establish a reputation for him among the international community.
“I’m pretty excited (about finishing in the top 10),” said McNeill, who trains with the University of California - Berkeley. “Parallel bars gave me a chance (to move up in the rankings), and if I could change one thing, it would be to go back and redo that routine. Overall, I gave it my best, and I put everything out there. That’s all I can ask of myself.”
For Horton, the in-arena announcer said it best following his last event: “Perhaps it wasn’t his day.” Expected to challenge for a medal, the defending U.S. Champ was off the mark today. On his first event, floor, Horton sat down his opening pass of 1 ½ to front double and continued to struggle throughout. On the very next event, he sat down on the pommel horse during his set and ending the day with a fall on a Kolman on high bar. Perhaps most frustrating for Horton is that he had a great month of training prior to arriving in London and his presentation and style has continued to improve over the last couple of years. Style-wise, he looks his best ever, but, as the announcer said, it just wasn’t his day.
“It’s a tough sport,” Horton said after the competition. “Things happen and they happen for a reason, I believe. I have a lot of faith and I have a lot of confidence in myself. It’s the World Championships, and some things you just can’t explain.”
Look for The Daily 9, Durante Says, and a Photo Gallery coming soon to InsideGymnastics.com.
Up Next in Competition: Women’s All-Around on Friday, with a live broadcast on UniversalSports.com.
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Photos by Grace Chiu