By Christy Sandmaier with Ashlee Buhler

On this final day of Qualifications at the 2021 World Championships, Olympic All-Around Champion Hashimoto Daiki (JPN) solidified his status as the heir apparent to countryman Uchimura Kohei, finishing first overall with an 88.040 over Zhang Boheng of China (87.897) and Adem Asil of Turkey (84.430). But not before King Kohei himself showed up and showed the world that he was once again ready to conquer. 

In Tokyo, the torch was passed and Hashimoto picked up where Uchimura left off in Rio to continue the golden legacy for the Japanese men with his All-Around and high bar gold medals. Hashimoto has a rare opportunity now to bring home two major All-Around titles in one year. He hammered his way through the competition today opening on floor (14.733) and never looking back. He stuck his Kas double cold on vault, showed off a Cassina, Kolman, layout Tkatchev + straddle Tkatchev to mixed grip, Yamawaki, and 2/1 double layout dismount on high bar, and was super solid everywhere else, earning event final berths on floor, pommel horse, parallel bars and high bar. He seems laser-focused here, extremely consistent, and ready to lead this new era of Japanese gymnastics.

Overall, the Japanese men looked incredible in Qualifications, and were ready to put on a show for their fans in the arena and around the world from the moment they stepped on the floor. With 10 opportunities for medals on the line for them in finals, this team is poised for continued greatness as a new generation officially takes hold. But first, there’s one last routine the world is waiting for.

One More Time

Uchimura Kohei is in Kitakyushu for one event: high bar. For the seven-time Olympic medalist and 21-time World medalist, this World Championships may be his last competition ever and with that comes an immense and almost unfathomable pressure. He’s competing in his home country, in front of his home crowd, and as one of the greatest athletes of all time. Falling off the event in his home Olympics and failing to advance to the event finals isn’t how he wanted to finish off his gymnastics career.

So he’s here. And as he took the podium as the last competitor in the third of five subdivisions, our hearts were racing. 

His routine wasn’t perfect –  bent arms on the releases, a wild catch on the Bretschneider – but in the magnitude of the moment itself, it simply didn’t matter. After such devastation in Tokyo, he hit and the crowd loved it. We loved it. And the judges awarded it a 14.300.

It was an extremely private moment of redemption being shared with a Japanese audience who adore him no matter what he does and who simultaneously expect everything from him.

“I wasn’t nervous but I thought to myself, ‘Man if I blow this, I’m done’, he told the Olympic Channel. “I went into competition with a sense of resolve I don’t usually have. I was determined to finish the performance no matter what,” he explained. “I had some real strong feelings. I wasn’t worried about the score. If I did what I set out to do, I would probably qualify for the final. So it was good – for now anyway.”

It was good. It was real, raw and also just joyful knowing that someone who has so graciously given so much to this sport and changed it forever, was able to experience a moment like this at home. It was pure sport. On Sunday, with his status as a legend in the sport already signed and sealed, it’s one more time we get to see Uchimura in action. One more time to be amazed. And maybe one last time knowing we’re so lucky to have witnessed it all.

Across the Arena

The biggest headline on day three and in the men’s competition overall, unfortunately fell to COVID it seems. Prior to Subdivision 6, the meet was delayed as the equipment was completely sterilized (a.k.a all of the chalk was removed) creating a 90-minute delay for the athletes from Albania, Canada, Ecuador, Great Britain, Ireland, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam, as well as those waiting to compete later in Subdivision 7 and 8. The athletes, who had already been warming up in the back and were ready to go, had to completely reset mentally and physically. While it has yet to be confirmed, it seems a positive COVID test from a prior session was the reason. (More on this as the story develops.)

This was a huge subdivision which was certain to shakeup the standings already with 2019 medalists Rhys McCleneghan (IRL) and the ultra-powerful Ibrahim Colak (TUR) competing. And while many of the athletes rose to the occasion as they’ve been trained to do, there will always be a “what if” surrounding this session and its lasting impact on the results.

McClenghan, again a favorite for a pommel horse podium finish here, tweeted after the round was complete: “I’m sad I trained until this point just to have the chalk wiped off the equipment and been told to wait 1hour 30mins before I competed. Due to a competitor in the subdivision before testing positive for covid. Time to go home and just hope there’s not another Worlds like this one”

He scored a 13. 766 and did not make finals.

For defending World Champion on floor Carlos Yulo (PHI), who competed in Subdivision 7, a disappointing Tokyo Olympics fueled his game here and he finished first on floor with a 15.166, first on parallel bars (15.566), and third on vault with a 14.808. “I wanted to step up my game,” Yulo said. “I didn’t want to make the same mistakes. Right now I’m doubling it. I’m doing the work double time.” We’re excited to see his incredible style and difficulty in three finals and make more history for himself and his country.

The Turkish men also got the job done today with Adem’s third place finish and Onder Ahmet’s eighth place finish in the All-Around standings, and Colak’s fifth place on rings (14.766). This is a program on a continued rise and we’re absolutely here for it.

Four to Finals

For the U.S. Men, Yul Moldaur (81.064) finished 13th in the All-Around (he was the only U.S. man to compete all six events). “The Hype Man” – as he’s known to his teammates – told us earlier this month it was tough to go right back to training after Tokyo, but remains on a mission to bring back hardware for the United States.

He kicked off his competition so strong with a 14. 866 on parallel bars, a 13.233 on high bar and 14.433 on floor. Then the wheels came off on pommels, twice (10.633). He regrouped on rings and vault (nice Kas 1.5!). Friday’s All-Around competition will bring a new day and a new opportunity for Moldauer. After the competition, he was already thinking ahead to the rest of the week.

“There’s still room to improve on which is nice to know. I fell twice on horse, rings was a little sloppy… there’s definitely a good three to four points I can get back. We’re with a good group of guys right now. We’re young, we’re energetic, it’s just a really good group.”

2020 Olympian and 2021 U.S. National All-Around Champion Brody Malone went 14.366 on high bar, his lone event here, and will head to finals as the fourth place qualifier. He soared on his Cassina and Kolman, and finished his routine with a laid out double double with a small step. It’s been a whirlwind year for Malone and having already been inaugurated as the next “it” man for the U.S. men, he is in great position to medal on Sunday, and then it’s home to prepare for his NCAA season at Stanford.

“After the Olympics, I definitely needed some down time. I got a mental break from things and went home,” he said after the competition. “When I got back to school it was, ‘start training for Worlds again’ and it was definitely difficult on my body because it was a long season. It’s been a long time of doing a lot of routines. I’m happy to be here and I’m happy with my performance today.”

In his World Championships debut, 2020 Olympic alternate Alex Diab  powered through a strong rings set with his teammates creating their own NCAA atmosphere inside the arena for him (their cheers echoing across the floor), only to land very short and put his hands down on his dismount (13.366). He walked off the podium almost in disbelief and in a daze. He’ll be in this position again we believe, but this was tough to see. Donnell Whittenburg went out of bounds on floor on his double double and had errors on his landings throughout scoring a 13.866. On vault, he finished 12th.

Pommel Horse Nation

And remember when the U.S. having not only two finalists but two potential medalists on pommel horse was the stuff dreams were made of? Well, dream no more. Stephen Nedoroscik (15.366) and Olympic finalist Alec Yoder (15.300) both nailed their sets to place second and third respectively and will compete for podium positions in finals.

For Yoder, Kitakyushu offers redemption after a sixth place finish Tokyo left him unsatisfied: “My goal is not to be a world finalist, but a world medalist.” 

Who’s Going:

Top 15 All-Around:

  1. Hashimoto Daiki JPN 88.040
  2. Zhang Boheng CHN 87.897
  3. Asil Adem TUR 84.430
  4. Shi Cong CHN 83.898
  5. Kovtun Illia UKR 83.565
  6. Meszaros Krisztofe HUN 82.632
  7. Georgiou Ilias CYP 82.364
  8. Onder Ahmet TUR 82.065
  9. Plata Joel ESP 81.898
  10. Tvorogal Robert LTU 81.766
  11. Emard William CAN 81.498
  12. van den Keybus Luka BEL 81.098
  13. Moldauer Yul USA 81.064
  14. Mboyo Henji SUI 80.965
  15. Nathan Joshua GBR 80.765

Floor:

  1. Yulo Carlos Edriel PHI 15.166
  2. Bartolini Nicola ITA 14.966
  3. Minami Kazuki JPN 14.966
  4. Karimi Milad KAZ 14.941
  5. Hashimoto Daiki JPN 14.733
  6. Ryu Sunghyun KOR 14.600
  7. Skinner Hayden GBR 14.566
  8. Soravuo Emil FIN 14.533

Pommel Horse:

  1. Weng Hao CHN15.600
  2. Nedoroscik Stephen USA 15.366
  3. Yoder Alec USA 15.300
  4. Hashimoto Daiki JPN 15.075
  5. Nathan Joshua GBR 15.033
  6. Kurbanov Nariman KAZ 15.000
  7. Kaya Kazuma JPN 14.933
  8. Ude Filip CRO 14.866

Rings:

  1. Lan Xingyu CHN 15.266
  2. Zhang Boheng CHN 14.866
  3. Hoeck Vinzenz AUT 14.766
  4. Klimentev Grigorii RUS 14.766
  5. Colak Ibrahim TUR 14.766
  6. Emard William CAN 14.733
  7. Tulloch Courtney GBR 14.666
  8. Maresca Salvatore ITA 14.666

Vault:

  1. Chepurnyi Nazar UKR 14.833
  2. Yang Hakseon KOR 14.833
  3. Yulo Carlos Edriel PHI 14.808
  4. Yonekura Hidenobu JPN 14.783
  5. Medvedev Andrey ISR 14.716
  6. Grasso Thomas ITA 14.599
  7. Tulloch Courtney GBR 14.566
  8. Emard William CAN 14.533

Parallel Bars:

  1. Yulo Carlos Edriel PHI 15.566
  2. Zhang Boheng CHN 15.300
  3. Hu Xuwei CHN 15.233
  4. Shi Cong CHN 15.200
  5. Hashimoto Daiki JPN 15.200
  6. Moldauer Yul USA 14.866
  7. Baumann Christian SUI 14.841
  8. Kaya Kazuma JPN 14.833

High Bar:

  1. Hashimoto Daiki JPN 14.633
  2. Hu Xuwei CHN 14.533
  3. Karimi Milad KAZ 14.433
  4. Malone Brody USA 14.366
  5. Uchimura Kohei JPN 14.300
  6. Macchini Carlo ITA 14.266
  7. Georgiou Ilias CYP 14.233
  8. Kovtun Illia UKR 14.200

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS

Note on tomorrow’s Women’s All-Around final: Hitomi Hatakeda (JPN) has withdrawn due to an injury: Central spinal cord injury and Cervical bruise listed. Hitomi finished 4th behind Melnikova (RUS), Wong (USA) and DiCello in Qualifications.

How to Watch:

TV Schedule:

WOMEN’S ALL-AROUND FINAL

  • Thursday, October 21 at 5:15am (Live on Olympic Channel)
  • Thursday, October 21 at 7pm ET (Taped coverage on NBCSN)

INDIVIDUAL APPARATUS FINALS

  • Saturday, October 23 at 5am ET (Live on Olympic Channel)
  • Sunday, October 24 at 3:30am ET (Live on Olympic Channel)
  • Sunday, October 24 at 1:30pm ET (Taped coverage on NBC)

Photos Volker Minkus/FIG

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