Nikita Nagornyy, Hashimoto Daiki, and Xiao Ruoteng
The men’s all-around final in Tokyo was nothing short of exhilarating, with the four who were most expected to challenge for the podium all hitting at full strength to wind up just tenths apart from one another, though it was Hashimoto Daiki of Japan who came out on top for the gold ahead of Xiao Ruoteng, Nikita Nagornyy, and Sun Wei.
At just 19, Hashimoto is the youngest in history to win the men’s all-around competition at the Olympic Games, replacing Vitaliy Scherbo, who was 20 when he won gold for the Unified Team in 1992. His score of 88.465 was less than a tenth higher than his qualification score of 88.531, and his qualifications score was one one-thousandth lower than his All-Japan Championships score, showing that not only is he putting together one of the best all-around performances in 2021, but also the most consistent, with most of his apparatus scores not deviating from competition to competition.
Hashimoto competed incredibly well today, though he lost a few tenths in difficulty in his rings routine, and also took a big step to the side and off the mat on his kaz double full on vault. Still, the rest of the day was strong enough to carry him through in third place going into the final rotation, just four tenths behind the top of the standings, and with the best high bar routine in the all-around field, he was easily able to make that up, hitting his dismount with a small hop, but knowing he had almost certainly done enough to take the gold.
China’s Xiao Ruoteng, who picked up the lead on rings and held it straight through to the final routine, was also phenomenal in his competition, beginning with one of the sturdiest floor routines of the meet, and continuing with top-four scores on the next four events, with some of the best execution in the competition.
His high bar set at the end was his weakest in terms of his form, though it was still very strong…however, he forgot to salute at the end, incurring a three-tenth penalty that he tried to fight, but his inquiry was denied, leaving him with a 14.066 instead of a 14.366, and an 88.065 all-around score, four tenths behind Hashimoto. Even had the inquiry been accepted, he still would have finished in the silver medal position, so nothing was lost there, but this was China’s second penalty in finals after Zou Jingyuan was docked for starting too late on parallel bars in the team competition, which is a bit alarming. Hopefully they get this figured out before they go into the apparatus finals next week.
Nikita Nagornyy of Russia was just 0.034 behind Xiao, starting off slow on his first two events, but coming back and hitting strong routines on rings, vault, and parallel bars to catch up to the rest of the field. By the time the guys went to high bar, he was second, but a few late handstands and a giant step forward on his dismount – where his hands nearly brushed the mat – held him back to a 14.366 on the event, and an 88.031 in the all-around.
After leading his team to gold just two days ago, Nagornyy was excellent here, but it was a tight race and it was difficult for him to hit every event at a hundred percent. He seemed incredibly disappointed in himself, yelling at the camera before receiving his medal that he was “ashamed,” apologizing for his performance, and rolling his eyes when he had to accept the bronze. He later told the press that he thought the judging was fair, and said it was his own fault that he didn’t win the gold.
Finishing just outside the podium was Sun Wei of China, who scored an 87.798, just over two tenths back from winning a medal. Sun had one of the best vaults of the competition, hitting a beautiful kaz double full with a small hop in place, and he was also brilliant on pretty much every other event, but he seemed pretty disappointed in his parallel bars performance, especially after he landed his dismount a bit low, leaving him unable to surpass a 15 on the event, which could have pushed him into medal position.
Rounding out the top eight were Kitazono Takeru of Japan, who hit all six events well aside from coming up incredibly short on vault, in fifth with an 86.698; Artur Dalaloyan of Russia, who was a little off at times but still looked incredible given his injury, in sixth with an 86.248; Tang Chia-Hung of Taiwan, who averaged an 8.866 execution score for his absolutely gorgeous work on every single event, in seventh with an 84.798, making history as Taiwan’s best Olympic all-arounder in history; and James Hall of Great Britain, who was solid across all of his events and had a well-fought pommels set, in eighth with an 84.598.
His teammate, Joe Fraser, qualified in fifth place over the weekend, though a fall on pommels and a massive stumble on vault held him back from his full potential by about two full points, and he wound up in ninth with an 84.499, though he did some incredible work on his other four events, especially on parallel bars, where he posted a 15.133.
The Americans saw newcomer Brody Malone finish 10th with an 84.465, while veteran Sam Mikulak competed the last all-around performance of his career to finish 12th with an 83.164. Malone had mostly strong performances, and though he had to fight to hit parallel bars, he successfully competed his new mount – a shoot up to handstand and fall back to support with a three-quarter turn – to get it named for him in the code of points. Mikulak, meanwhile, was looking likely to pull off a top-eight finish, but some form errors on high bar and a fall on his piked double front on floor ultimately held him back.
I was also impressed with how Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun – who is only 17 years old! – competed today, going six-for-six with big difficulty on pommels, parallel bars, and high bar to finish 11th with an 83.797. Kovtun, the 2021 European bronze all-around medalist, still has a few clean-up areas, but if he looks this good now, we’re going to be in for a real treat when he gets back to the Games in 2024.
Benjamin Gischard of Switzerland was 13th with an 82.732, Milad Karimi of Kazakhstan was 14th with an 82.530, Adem Asil of Turkey was 15th with an 82.499, Eddy Yusof of Switzerland was 16th with an 81.732, Caio Souza of Brazil was 17th with an 81.532, Lukas Dauser of Germany was 18th with an 81.290, Petro Pakhniuk of Ukraine was 19th with an 81.265, Diogo Soares of Brazil was 20th with an 81.198, Lee Chih-Kai of Taiwan was 21st with an 80.699, Lee Jun-ho of South Korea was 22nd with an 80.464, and Philipp Herder of Germany was 23rd with a 78.565.
Ahmet Önder of Turkey competed three events, but felt pain in his shoulder on rings, and decided to withdraw from the meet after vault, though he said he plans on being back for the vault final next week.
Though Karimi had a fall on high bar, I was so impressed with the rest of what he did there, including catching a Kovacs to Kolman. He also had the best floor routine of the meet, earning a 15.033 for a stuck double front half, 3½ to rudi, randi, double double, 2½ to front double full, and a nearly stuck triple at the end. It was a massive routine, and so well-executed, and I’m so excited it’ll be highlighted in the floor final.
Asil also gets a shoutout for nailing his piked handspring double front half, which he landed with just a small hop to earn a 15.133, the top vault score of the meet, while Lukas Dauser showed his usual brilliance on parallel bars to earn a 15.400.
Article by Lauren Hopkins