Gymnastics – Russia, China set to end Japanese rule
TOKYO, July 16 (Reuters) – Japan have claimed gold or silver in the men’s team event in the last four Olympics, but as the hosts will rely heavily on a group of novice gymnasts at the Tokyo, the stage is set for a new champion to emerge.
Since his Olympic debut in 2008, Kohei Uchimura had spearheaded Japan’s bid to win the team gold medal in three consecutive Games, but in Tokyo he chose to compete in just one event to preserve his body marked by the fighting.
The 32-year-old became the first man in 44 years to win two back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2016, crowning a remarkable streak of podium finishes in all major international competitions for two full Olympic cycles.
But with age and injuries taking their toll, the gymnast known as “King Kohei” will only compete on the horizontal bar – and even then he was fortunate enough to make the cut with the last margin. more narrow. Read more
The all-around favorite for the crown – where men compete on floor, vault, parallel bars, horizontal bar, pommel horse and rings – is Russian world champion Nikita Nagornyy.
The 24-year-old has not lost a major all-around competition since his third place at the 2018 world championships and he will be supported by a Russian team chasing team gold after losing narrowly to Japan at the Olympics from Rio five years ago.
The Russians, however, will compete without their flag and anthem due to anti-doping sanctions.
An experienced Chinese team, whose hopes of winning a hat-trick in men’s Olympic gold medals in Rio failed when they could only finish third, will look to redeem themselves.
Former all-around world champion Xiao Ruoteng, two-time parallel bars world champion Zou Jingyuan, Olympic team bronze medalist Lin Chaopan and Sun Wei, the only first-time Olympian in Team China, make up the class of 2021.
China won gold at the 2018 world championships and finished second, behind Russia, in 2019.
But with the Russian team plagued with injuries over the past year, winning Olympic team gold for the first time since 1996 could prove to be a tall order.
A big question mark hangs over Artur Dalaloyan, the 2018 all-around champion, who underwent surgery for an Achilles tendon tear in April, though the team said at the time he would be ready. for Tokyo.
The Japanese team may lack Olympic experience, but some of the team were part of the setup that won bronze at the world championships in 2019; including Kazuma Kaya who won bronze on parallel bars. Uchimura himself remains a formidable force on the horizontal bar.
Among those to watch in the individual events will be Carlos Yulo, who hopes to become the first Filipino to win an Olympic gold medal.
The 21-year-old, who has lived and trained in Tokyo since 2016, won floor gold at the 2019 World Championships and the Southeast Asian Games, and hopes to do the same at the Olympics.
Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Pritha Sarkar
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.