• Kyodo

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Japan narrowly topped fierce gymnastics rival China in the first day of qualification for the men’s team event at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships on Sunday in Glasgow, all but securing a place in the final and more importantly a slot at next year’s Rio Olympic Games.

After five apparatus, the five-member Japanese team led by gymnastics legend Kohei Uchimura had been awarded 1.875 points more than China but did score more highly in three of the five disciplines, with a Chinese athlete only topping his Japanese counterpart in the rings and parallel bars. In Glasgow, Japan is looking for its first team title in 37 years.

Uchimura was typically dominant in the all-around competition, leading the way by 1.608 points after the first day’s events. The musclebound 26-year-old, widely considered to be best gymnast of all time, is looking to secure his sixth consecutive men’s all-around world championships title which he hopes to add to his Olympic gold won in London in 2012.

Among all-around competitors, Uchimura topped the horizontal bar and vault disciplines, finished fourth on the pommel horse, and sixth on the parallel bars. On the floor he made an uncharacteristic mistake on landing a double-twisting, double-somersault, falling forward to lose points, dropping him to 36th. On the rings he finished 9th, with 14.800 points.

The Japanese team’s general supremacy was only reinforced on the floor with Kenzo Shirai securing a healthy lead after his qualification performance. Yusuke Tanaka led the parallel bars and Kazuma Kaya sat in second in the pommel horse competition.

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