ATHENS – Reigning world champion Takehiro Kashima of Japan put in a solid performance in the men’s pommel horse final to come away with the bronze medal at the Athens Olympics, but his compatriots failed to make the podium in two other gymnastics apparatus finals Sunday.
competition Sunday in Athens.
Kashima had a well-balanced routine on his favorite apparatus, but his score of 9.787 points was not enough for Japan’s first ever Olympic pommel horse gold medal as he claimed the first Games medal for his country in the event since Eizo Kenmotsu took silver at the 1976 Montreal Games.
Compatriot Hiroyuki Tomita had a fall and finished last among eight finalists with 9.062 at Olympic Indoor Hall.
China’s Teng Haibin, who shared the world gold with Kashima, won the event in Athens with 9.837 points, followed by 2000 Sydney Olympic champion and two-time world titlist Marius Urzica of Romania, whose speedy and dynamic routine earned him 9.825 for the silver.
In the still rings final, Tomita just missed a medal despite a clean and stable routine, including a strength-move combination categorized among tricks with the highest level of difficulty, and ended in fourth place with 9.800 points.
Home crowd favorite and world champion Dimosthenis Tampakos won with 9.862, Bulgaria’s Jordan Jovtchev, who has two world titles including one shared with the Greek, took the silver, and Italian veteran Yuri Chechi, the 1996 Atlanta Olympic champion, came back from retirement to grab the bronze.
In the men’s floor exercises, Daisuke Nakano and Isao Yoneda ended in sixth and seventh places with 9.712 and 9.662 points, respectively, after relatively clean performances spoiled by minor losses of balance on the landing of their tumbling series.
“The world-class athlete must get the landing right after all,” Nakano said. “Everyone had routines with starting values of a full 10 points, so the competition came down to the landing.”
Yoneda, who captains the Japanese men’s squad, said he was more relaxed than during the team competition Aug. 16, when the men claimed the first Olympic team gold in 28 years, but he gave himself just a 70 percent score for his performance Sunday.
World bronze medalist Kyle Shewfelt won the first Olympic medal for Canada in men’s gymnastics by claiming gold with 9.787 points, followed by two-time world champion Marian Dragulescu of Romania. Jovtchev won his second straight floor bronze.
On Monday, Tomita and Nakano will compete in the parallel bars final, and Nakano and Yoneda will vie for gold on the horizontal bar.
American Paul Hamm, who won gold in the all-around, failed to medal in either of his events, finishing fifth in the floor exercises and sixth on the pommel horse.
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