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Zou wins horizontal bar; Uchimura takes bronze

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo

Zou Kai led a 1-2 finish for China in the men’s horizontal bar while three-time all-around champion Kohei Uchimura had to settle for bronze on the final day of the world gymnastic championships on Sunday.

Zou was the pride and joy of his country after capturing the day’s second gold for China, its fourth overall at these worlds. It followed Sui Lu’s victory in the women’s balance beam.

“I was determined to defend the title for our country. Winning the title like this for the first time in two years is a big confidence boost for me,” said Zou, who won the horizontal bar world title in London in 2009. “I want to continue to aim for higher scores and defend the title going forward.”

Uchimura, who became the first gymnast in history to win three consecutive all-around world titles and won gold in the floor exercise a day earlier, claimed his fourth medal of the competition, including the men’s team event silver.

“Honestly, I didn’t think I could win a medal in the horizontal bar, so I am really happy,” said Uchimura. “When I made my release from the bar, I had a sturdy landing. It helps me looking forward that I was able to perform even though I am not in the best condition.”

Zou got the highest mark of 7.700 points for difficulty and collected a winning total of 16.441 at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Defending champion Zhang Chenglong took silver with 16.366, while Uchimura was an additional 0.033 behind in third.

“I practiced very hard yesterday to make sure to score the highest. Being able to control my body led to this victory,” Zou added.

Yusuke Tanaka (14.700), one of two brothers of starlet Rie Tanaka, fell forward on his landing and finished in sixth.

In the men’s parallel bars, American Danell Leyva took the honors with 15.633, with Greece’s Vasileios Tsolakidis taking silver along with Zhang with the same score of 15.533. Uchimura (15.500) was fourth while Kazuhito Tanaka (15.166), the oldest brother in the Tanaka family, came last in the eight-man final.

“My favorite part is definitely the national anthem. You never get tired of that. It feels amazing to do a good routine like I did and be able to get the gold medal,” said Leyva.

In the men’s vault, South Korean Yang Hak Seon won the gold with 16.566, while Russia’s Anton Golotsutskov finished runner-up with 16.366. Makoto Okiguchi took the bronze with a score of 16.291.

“I am 80 percent satisfied because I had a bad landing on my second vault. But I am very happy with getting the gold medal,” said Yang, who won his country’s first gold since the 2007 Stuttgart meet.

Sui pipped compatriot Yao Jinnan with a high score of 15.866. Yao had 15.233 for silver, while all-around champion Jordyn Wieber of the United States took the bronze medal with 15.133.

Russia’s Kseniia Afanaseva won the women’s floor exercise with a captivating performance of twists and turns, scoring a high of 15.133. Sui (15.066) grabbed the silver while the bronze went to American Alexandra Raisman (15.000).

“Winning two golds at the worlds would have been great but I think that is a goal I look forward to for the future,” said Sui. “This was the first time I was able to get this result, so I am happy.”