Russia edges Japan, China for gold in men's gymnastics

  • Russian Olympic Committee's artistic gymnastics men's team, from right, Denis Abliazin, right, Nikita Nagornyy, David Belyavskiy and Artur Dalaloyan celebrate after winning the gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) Gregory Bull

  • The Russian Olympic Committee's Nikita Nagornyy celebrates after winning the gold medal in the artistic men's team final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Ashley Landis

  • FILE - Nikita Nagornyy of Russia performs on the rings in the men's all-around final at the Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, in this Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, file photo. Russia, China and potentially host Japan figure to be in a fight for the top of the podium in the team event at the Tokyo Games. Nagornny, the 2019 world all-around champion, leads the field in the men's all around. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File) Matthias Schrader

  • Artur Dalaloyan, of the Russian Olympic Committee, performs on the horizontal bar during the artistic men's team final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Ashley Landis

  • Artur Dalaloyan, of the Russian Olympic Committee, performs on the parallel bars during men's artistic gymnastics team final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) Jeff Roberson

  • Daiki Hashimoto, of Japan, celebrates his performance on the horizontal bar during the artistic men's team final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) Natacha Pisarenko

  • Sun Wei, of China, performs on the parallel barsduring the artistic men's team final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) Natacha Pisarenko

  • China's artistic gymnastics men's team, Lin Chaopan, Sun Wei, Xiao Ruoteng and Zou Jingyuan celebrate  after winning the bronze medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) Natacha Pisarenko

  • Samuel Mikulak, of the United States, performs on the parallel bars during the artistic men's team final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) Natacha Pisarenko

  • Gymnasts from the United States, from left, Yul Moldauer, Samuel Mikulak, and Shane Wiskus watch teammate Brody Malone performing on the horizontal bar during the artistic men's team final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Ashley Landis

AP Sports Writer
Published: 7/26/2021 10:51:40 AM
Modified: 7/26/2021 10:51:43 AM

TOKYO (AP) — Russia’s long climb back to the top in men’s Olympic gymnastics is over.

The team representing the Russian Olympic Committee rode remarkable performances by Artur Dalaloyan and Nikita Nagornyy to edge Japan and China in a taut men’s team final on Monday. The victory marked the first Olympic title for the Russians since 1996 in Atlanta.

Russia’s total of 262.500, capped by Nagornyy’s rock-solid floor routine set with victory on the line, was just good enough to hold off the sport’s other two superpowers. Japan used a brilliant high bar routine by Daiki Hashimoto in the final rotation to surge past China for second with a score of 262.397.

The Chinese were undone by a fall from Lin Chaopan on floor exercise during the first rotation. They were forced to play catch-up all evening. Down by more than 3.3 points halfway through, they managed to pull within fractions of the Russians before a couple of form breaks on high bar in the final rotation cost them a shot at the top of the podium.

The three teams have spent the past five years in a tug-of-war at the top of the sport. The Japanese won gold at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. The Chinese edged Russia at the 2018 world championships, with the Russians returning the favor in 2019.

They were separated by just less than a point during qualifying, but Russia took command of the finals on vault. Nagornyy, Dalaloyan and Denis Abliazin all posted scores of 14.733 or higher. Nagornyy stuck his landing. So did Dalaloyan, who competed with his left leg heavily taped after undergoing surgery for a torn Achilles in April. By the time Abliazin’s feet hit the mat, Russia was in the lead to stay.

It didn’t come easy, however. Leading by about six-tenths of a point going into the final rotation, Abliazin nearly gave it away when he stepped out of bounds with both feet on floor. Dalaloyan followed suit during his routine.

The missteps gave Japan an opening, and 19-year-old Daiki Hashimoto — Japan’s heir apparent to two-time Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura — delivered a spectacular high bar set. He roared after drilling his dismount, the sound of his Japanese teammates celebrating echoing through mostly empty Ariake Gymnastics Centre.

Nagornyy, with the rest of the arena watching, saluted the judges needing 14.564 to deliver gold. The reigning world champion came through, exhaling following his dismount before waving his hands to the small crowd.

The Russians gathered around him awaiting the score, and when the 14.600 flashed they joined a raucous celebration with tears in their eyes.

Great Britain came in fourth. The U.S. appeared poised to come in fourth before a messy floor exercise in the final rotation, the only real mistake in an otherwise solid meet for the Americans.


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