Today’s TOP 10 from Tokyo!

By Gina Pongetti Angeletti and Christy Sandmaier

Today in the Ariaka Gymnastics Centre, the men from the ROC were crowned Olympic Champions. It was an epic battle between the top 3 throughout the competition. Japan took silver and China the bronze. What stood out to us was the camaraderie and raw emotion out on the floor between all of the teams. With no audience, it was up to each competitor to create their own atmosphere and they did it in Olympic-sized fashion. Cheers, high fives, low fives between countries as they alternated events, screaming and the inevitable tears only felt after all of the pressure that has been building for a lifetime has been relieved.

Congratulations to the champions and to all of the competitors. You’re all Olympians and you represented sport, your countries and the world well.

Here are our Top 10 Takeaways from Inside the Ariake:

  1. Olympic Champions The ROC’s 1-2 punch of textbook technique with whopping difficulty delivered. They do indeed put the ART in Artistic Gymnastics, with routines as stylish as they are difficult and on this day, absolutely unbeatable. This victory is well-deserved and the raw emotion the team displayed while waiting for the official results and once the gold was theirs, was something we did not expect and will never forget. It was truly emotional for each member of the team – all four in tears and on their knees relishing a moment that only a few have ever experienced. From now and until forever, they are 2020 Olympic Champions.
  2. Nikita Nagornyy and his Dragulescu. Stunning. Stuck. Absolutely amazing.
  3. Artur Dalaloyan’s Achilles Watch was on the front lines. He managed a stuck handspring double pike with slightly bent knees. Possibly in preparation for landing and not blowing out a knee to add to his collection. It was never more silent when he was going, and never more loud when he landed. His team in full support as if it would even be a question. Not wavering, all day. #arturachilleswatch is trending on Twitter, we did it, GymNerds. 
  4. Have We Mentioned Nagornyy…  and his save of the day! It went something like this: He was off on his 2.5 punch full to a 1.5. and did a Barani to double instead. Added in a triple full instead of the usual double, knowing that he needed the difficulty to raise his score. He was the last competitor for his team and the entire evening. There were no more chances. In the end, what a decision that was! On the spot! And literally was the difference between silver and gold.
  5. Battle for Silver and Bronze. Home country, Japan, and China battled it out all night with Japan finishing second and China third. Each routine in the ‘Can you top this?’ game. It’s rivalries and competitions such as this that continue to push the envelope in the sport. We loved every minute of it.
  6. The Number Game. In 2016, the U.S. Men were in fifth place, 1.192 behind Great Britain. This year? Same standings. 1.166 behind. Over the course of 18 routines, 0.065 on each routine. Though 7.906 separated the ROC and the United States, which is .439 on each event. Today the U.S. Men did their best – the best routines that they had to offer, many the best routines of their lives, and with the best attitudes. Their execution is what had them almost to fourth. With increased difficulty, who knows? Paris 2024 is only 3 years away.
  7. Ariake Atmosphere. Though the volunteers (and there are many of them) are supposed to be silent and neutral, now that the Olympic medal rounds have officially started, they are letting loose. Japan’s vaulting was solid, and everyone in the stadium knew it. Clapping got louder and almost even felt like a small audience. It was warm, welcoming and so appreciated by all of the athletes.
  8. Equal Opportunity. There is a female coach on the floor for Ukraine.
  9. Kathy Johnson Clarke States It Perfectly 


10. Remember these? Tickets were required for today, in addition to credentials, in order to access seats. This was an extra measure and level to ensure controlled numbers even for delegations and VIP’s.  It was amazing to see and hold an actual ticket in hand. Though thousands of Japanese citizens were originally going to be allowed in to stadiums (hence having tickets), it was decided that because of the pandemic surge, this was against better judgment. The value of one of these paper tickets unused? Priceless. Though certain there is a market on Ebay for an Olympic collector!

Photos by Ricardo Bufolin for Inside Gymnastics

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