LONDON – Gymnast Kohei Uchimura settled for the silver medal in the men’s floor exercise final at the London Olympics on Sunday, adding to his gold in the individual all-around and silver in the team competition.
Uchimura, who won the floor title at last year’s world championships, set out to avenge his fifth-place finish at the Beijing Games in the event four years ago with acrobatics performed cleanly throughout for 15.800 points.
But China’s Zou Kai, the top qualifier for the floor final, defended his title with a solid routine that looked virtually error-free which earned him 15.933. Denis Ablyazin of Russia got the bronze with 15.800 — the same score as Uchimura’s but ranked lower based on execution points.
Uchimura, the 23-year-old three-time all-around world champion who qualified for the final with the second best score, was the first to perform in Sunday’s floor final at North Greenwich Arena and had to wait for seven rivals to carry out their routines.
“I didn’t feel particularly pressured,” he said of being first up on the floor, the only apparatus final he qualified for in London. “In the very end, I was finally able to carry out a performance which I am satisfied with at this competition so I am filled with joy.”
In Wednesday’s individual all-around final, he put his hands down in landing a tumbling series on the floor exercise en route to winning gold.
While he described the all-around gold medal as being “the most sparkling” just after winning it, he had said he does not feel contentment because he was not satisfied with the way he had been performing.
On Sunday, his execution score of 9.100 was the highest among the eight finalists.
It is Japan’s first Olympic medal on the floor since Yukio Iketani claimed silver at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Zou still not satisfied
Gymnast Zou Kai etched his name into Chinese Olympic folklore by winning his fifth gold medal on Sunday, and then insisted that he was still hungry for more.
The 24-year-old’s successful defence of his men’s floor title means he has now won more gold medals than any other Chinese gymnast.
He celebrated by unveiling a banner proclaiming the achievement, which he later revealed had been written by Li Ning, who won three gold medals, two silvers, and one bronze for China at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Having won three golds in Beijing four years ago, Zou can take his tally to six if he prevails in the horizontal bar final on Tuesday.
He predicted that Sunday’s success at the North Greenwich Arena would give him “more confidence to win another one”, and also said that he had a more profound appreciation of his success than in Beijing.
“I was really young and inexperienced in 2008,” he revealed.
“I was just a kid who focused on the competition. I’m different now and wanted to be on top of the podium.”
Zou, who started gymnastics at the age of four, has been supported in London by his parents and he said that their backing had been an important source of encouragement.
“We talk, and they don’t put much pressure on me,” he said.
“They just want to see me happy and healthy. If I’m happy, then they’re happy too.”