Japan’s quest for a second straight gold medal in the men’s gymnastics team competition came up just short, as the Japanese were forced to settle for silver behind ROC, the name the Russian team is competing under, at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.
Daiki Hashimoto carried Japan to the top of the standings on the first night of competition and nearly carried his team to gold with his final performance on the high bar.
While Japan briefly moved into first place, ROC athlete Nikita Nagornyy did just enough in his final floor exercise to give his team the gold.
“Today I think we deserved the score,” Nagornyy said. “Maybe the other teams got a higher score, for instance on the horizontal bar, but overall the win was ours.”
ROC finished with 262.500 points while Japan scored 262.397. China took bronze with 261.894.
“This will really drive us to try and win gold in the Paris Games,” Kazuma Kaya said.
Nagornyy came to Tokyo as the favorite to win the gold medal in the men’s all-around and gave the type of performance that showed why.
The Russian scored 14.466 on the pommel horse, 14.700 on the rings, 14.966 on vault, 15.166 on the parallel bars and 14.366 on the horizontal bar. He was on the floor exercise during his last rotation and performed after Hashimoto had given a thrilling performance on the bar to put Japan in position to claim gold.
“We had given the best performance we could and at that moment, I thought we had won the gold,” Takeru Kitazono said.
Nagornyy, however, delivered another strong showing on the floor and then joined his teammates as they anxiously awaited the score.
“My score wasn’t clear right away either, I didn’t know if we had won or not,” Hashimoto said.
Nagornyy’s score was 14.666, just enough to put ROC over Japan.
“We thought we could win if none of us made any major mistakes,” Wataru Tanigawa said. “I thought we had done that after the horizontal bar.”
The Japanese team left disappointed, but pleased with how they performed overall.
“When I landed, I was exhilarated,” Hashimoto said of her performance on the horizontal bar. “I was very happy. At that point I didn’t consider the color of the medal. I knew I had done the best that I could.”
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