Since 1996, the five Olympic titles had been shared between Japan and China, who today completed the podium
Twenty-five years after unforgettable gymnasts like Alexei Nemov or Nikolay Kruykov won the gold medal at the Atlanta’96 Games, the Russian men’s team once again reached the Olympic summit with their victory in Tokyo, in an exciting contest that was resolved in the last exercise of the last apparatus.
Since 1996, the five Olympic titles had been shared between Japan and China, who today completed the podium in that order. The champions added 262,500 points, by 262,397 from Japan and 261,894 from the Chinese team.
The Russians have already won the last world championship, in 2019, with the same four men who today hung the Olympic gold –Nikita Nagornyy, Artur Dalaloyan, David Belyavskiy and Denis Abliazion-, so we can speak of a change in the cycle.
Since the Unified Team heir to the USSR imposed itself on both men and women in Barcelona’92, they had only won in Atlanta and they have not yet returned to the top.
Two rotations cost Russia to take the lead, but when it seemed to be sure it ran into difficulties in the bar exercise and reached the sixth rotation with only 0.640 points of margin over China and 1.271 over Japan. Despite themselves, the Russians kept up the intrigue until the end and the three participants in the last floor exercise fell off the mat. Still, they won the gold.
A successful division of roles allowed Russia to get the most out of its men. Artur Dalaloyan and world champion Nikita Nagornyy did all six exercises, but Belyavskiy was the best on pommel horse and Abliazin on rings. The gold was for real for the team.
Japan and China coincided throughout the contest on the same device, as did Russia and the United States. Two mini-matches, two heads-up to distribute three medals.
The Americans repeated their tendency to do better in the qualifying round than in the finals and were off the hook early. But Chinese and Japanese fought tenth to tenth.
They opened on the ground and Daiki Hashimoto went up to 14,600; Xiao Ruoteng replied with an identical note. While the Chinese gymnast, the poise himself, did his pirouettes, in the Ariake pavilion ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ played in the background. That equality was maintained until the conclusion.
Dozens of athletes and coaches gathered in one of the stadium’s stands, which finally enjoyed a certain final atmosphere, compared to the silence of the previous days.
Russia won in jump and rings, Japan in ground and bar and China in horse with bow and parallel. An equitable distribution that speaks of the even level of three great teams.
In the middle of the competition, the Russians scored 2,605 points against Japan; a rotation later, 3,364 to China; in the absence of a device, only 0.640 to this same team.
Japan fully delivered on the bar, with a stellar Daiki Hashimoto at 19. ‘The one who looks big’, means his name, and today he did honor to it. He was already the best in the qualifying round and in two days he can become the individual champion. With their exceptional exercise they displaced China.
Nagornyy needed a 14.563 on the ground, after teammates Abliazin and Dalaloyan came off the mat. The world champion was not at his best but he got a 14,666 that tasted like glory. The team received him in tears. When the note appeared, they fell to the ground, overcome with emotion.
Behind, Great Britain (262,500), the United States (254,594) and Switzerland (250,927), which came to present their candidacy for the podium with parallel exercises executed with enormous cleanliness and that put it 33 thousandths of China.
Ukraine (246,394) and Germany (238,495) closed the ranking.