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Uchimura wins parallel bar bronze for fourth medal

Compiled From Kyodo, AP

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Kohei Uchimura collected his fourth medal at the World Gymnastics Championships on Sunday, winning a bronze in the parallel bars on the final day of competition.

Uchimura, who defended his all-around title and won silvers in the team event and the floor, finished behind the Chinese pair of Feng Zhe and Teng Haibin with 15.50 points.

Koji Uematsu, eighth in the all-around, was fifth. Uematsu was also eighth in the high bar.

No Japanese woman reached the final of any event.

“To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised I did as well as I did with the left shoulder injury,” Uchimura said. “I didn’t think I could medal in the parallel bars so I’m happy about that.”

The 21-year-old Uchimura was the only Japanese — among both men and women — to win a medal at these championships, surpassing even his own expectations.

Uchimura had not won an event medal at the championships, after coming up short last year in London, where he made his first appearance at the worlds.

Uchimura, who became the first Japanese to win back-to-back all-around titles, fought through the eight-day competition with an inflamed left shoulder.

He is only the third gymnast in the world to accomplish the feat after Yugoslavia’s Petar Sumi in 1922 and 1926, and China’s Yang Wei in 2006-2007.

“I found out I can perform, even under pain, and it’s given me confidence,” Uchimura said. “I want at least a week off. I don’t want to see a single apparatus for while.”

All-around women’s champion Aliya Mustafina of Russia won her fifth medal of the championships, taking silver on the floor exercises.

Lauren Mitchell of Australia swept past co-leaders Mustafina and Romania’s Diana Chelaru on the last performance, leaving the Russian with two gold and three silver medals in six events. Mustafina’s only blemish came when she fell off the beam on Sunday, leaving the title to Romania’s Ana Porgras ahead of American Rebecca Bross and defending champion Deng Linlin, who shared silver.

“On the beam, I didn’t have enough strength. I just lost balance,” Mustafina said.

Showing her resilience, Mustafina came back for a last show, on the floor.

Fatigue also showed in the concluding event, where she took an uncharacteristic sidestep. But her jumps and leaps of unmatched elegance were enough for one last medal before going home to study.

“I was well prepared, but I was tired,” she said.

Her performance put her into the lead with Romania’s Diana Chelaru until Mitchell came up with the performance of a lifetime in the last routine of the event.

“I need to think of another word for amazing,” Mitchell said. “My leaps and jumps I could not have done any better.”

Mustafina leaves with the same medal total that Russian great Svetlana Khorkina won at the 2001 world championships. But Mustafina said through a translator that she isn’t trying to emulate anyone.

“I don’t have any heroes,” Mustafina said. “I just try to be myself.”

Overall, China again had the depth to lead the medals table with nine, including four gold, with Zhang Chenglong winning the concluding high bar event ahead of local favorite Epke Zonderland. Russia was second with Mustafina winning five of its six medals. The United States came in third, also with six medals.