Remember what I said last week: “can it really get any better than this”? Well, IT JUST DID!!!
With Kristian Thomas just missing out on a place in the Floor final, how could we possibly excite the 15,000+ home crowd? Step up: Kai Zou, Kohei Uchimura, Denis Ablyazin, Thomas Sepulveda, Jacob Dalton, Alexander Shatilov, Flavius Koczi, and Marcel Nguyen. Now, these guys really are the heavyweights when it comes to Floor routines and I just knew it was even going to excite this hugely partisan crowd.
1.First up was the recently crowned All Around champion Kohei Uchimura, who executed a near perfect routine and set the standard for everyone else to follow, posting a huge score of 15.800.
2.Next up was the reigning Olympic champion Kai Zou with a routine packed full of difficulty and execution, posting a massive score of 15.933.
3.Third up was the new rising Russian star Denis Ablyazin, who at the age of 20 had the most difficult Floor routine of the competition and very nearly executed it perfectly, except for a few steps on his landings. Denis also posted a huge score of 15.800 but unfortunately was pushed into third position due to a lower execution score; watch out for this name in the future, he will be an Olympic champion.
Wow what a start! With only three gymnasts gone we were already possibly looking at the Olympic Floor medallists. In fact that is exactly how it finished: Gold, Silver and Bronze went to Kai Zou, Kohei Uchimura and Denis Ablyazin respectively. How to kill off the competition!
POMMEL FINAL: Before the gymnasts even entered the arena there was already a sense of anticipation and excitement building as the Pommel final would see Team GB represented by not one but two gymnasts. Louis Smith and Max Whitlock were set to go up against a field that included Krisztian Berki, the Hungarian Pommel specialist who has won every major title except for the Olympic title.
1.First up was Cyril Tommasone from France, the reigning World Silver Medallist, who started well and executed a difficult routine until an error in his dismount saw him marked down to score 15.141.
2.Next up was Vid Hidvegi, a native Hungarian who used to study and train out of Leeds University, who also started very cleanly until a break in form forced him to part with the Pommel Horse, scoring 14.300.
3.Third up was Alberto Busnari from Italy who executed a well worked routine with lots of flare sequences, which always look good but sometimes lack value, only this time he nailed it to score 15.400 and moved to the top of the leader board.
4.Fourth up was our own Max Whitlock; Max has just come through the junior ranks and forced his way into the senior team for his first Olympics and boy did he impress!! Max executed a near faultless routine and posted a score of 15.600, propelling him straight to the top of the leader board. BAM!!
5.Fifth up was Krisztian Berki, with every major title in his pocket and certainly armed with the difficulty, but would he hold his nerve in what could possibly be his last Olympic Games to claim the only title that has eluded him? Well, he did just that!! In a near perfect routine Krisztian posted a score of 16.066 that not only took him to the top of the leader board, but it could also possibly force our own Louis Smith to attempt his and the world’s most difficult routine.
6.Sixth up was the Ukranian Vitalii Nakonechnyi who lacked a little bit of difficulty but also made a few small errors, scoring 14.766.
7.Seventh up, and possibly the only other gymnast that could prevent our own Max Whitlock from claiming a medal, was the Russian David Belyavskiy. Unfortunately again David was lacking a little bit of difficulty and execution and posted a score of 14.733, leaving Max with at least a Bronze medal – C’MON!
8.Last up was Team GB’s highest profile gymnast Louis Smith, who was looking to upgrade the Bronze medal he won in Beijing. With the weight of the 15,000+ crowd and a nation that was expecting Gold, Louis stepped up to the podium very composed. There was only one question unanswered: which routine would he opt for? Lou started brilliantly – very tidy with really nice lines, but it would be the one handle work that would tell us whether Louis had opted for his most difficult routine by performing the single, double or triple Russian Lever. Well, it was the double! Not quite his most difficult routine, but it is still one of the best in the world and he NAILED IT! Lou went through the rest of his routine effortlessly, punching the air in belief after his dismount. The crowd was going absolutely nuts, and everyone was looking up at the huge scoreboard anticipating a mammoth score and Gold. 16.066 flashed up, the exact same score as Krisztian Berki, and for a moment the crowd cheered with excitement before everyone’s aspirations were quashed when cruelly Louis was placed into 2nd position due to having a marginally lower execution score. GB had secured Silver and Bronze behind Krisztian Berki. What drama. What excitement. What a sport; my sport!
Can it get any better than this? You’d better believe it!!!! Well done Lou and Max!