In Kohei Uchimura’s absence, a breakthrough world all-around champ

Leave a comment

In the absence of the King, China’s Xiao Ruoteng rose to win his first world championships all-around medal — gold in Montreal on Thursday night.

Xiao, a 21-year-old who was not on China’s Olympic team, came from nearly six tenths behind in the final rotation to overtake Russian David Belyavskiy for the title.

Belyavskiy opened the door by falling on his last routine on high bar, dropping to fourth place, just where he finished in Rio.

The 25-year-old also placed sixth at the 2011 Worlds, fifth at the 2012 Olympics and fifth at the 2014 Worlds. He has never won an Olympic or world all-around medal.

“I only thought of doing the [high bar] exercise from A to Z, without any faults, without the fall, but it happened,” Belyavskiy told media in Montreal. “Maybe I’m just lacking some luck.”

Xiao tallied 86.933 points to become the first Chinese gymnast to take gold since Yang Wei at the 2008 Olympics.

China actually went one-two at the 1976 Olympic Stadium, with Lin Chaopan taking silver with 86.448. Japan’s Kenzo Shirai edged Belyavskiy for bronze.

China redeemed after its worst-ever Olympic men’s gymnastics medal output in Rio — a lone bronze in the team event.

Uchimura, who won every Olympic and world title from 2009 through 2016, withdrew with a left ankle injury in qualifying on Monday. Xiao refused to speculate what would have happened Thursday if Uchimura was in the final.

“Gymnastics is something that you compete with yourself, not against each other,” he said. “So it’s more about doing my best, not considering other competitors.”

Shirai, a 21-year-old roommate of Uchimura, did speculate.

“I feel that if Uchimura was competing today, I would be fourth place,” said Shirai, who was competing in his first major international all-around competition. Before this year, Shirai was a floor exercise and vault specialist — arguably best in the world on both events.

U.S. champion Yul Moldauer was seventh in the 24-man field, competing in his first world championships.

“I hit six for six [routines], and I couldn’t have asked for a better meet,” said Moldauer, a rising University of Oklahoma junior formerly coached by 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Sasha Artemev. “I just need to start building my reputation. … Hopefully, next year, I can be in the top three.”

No American man has earned a world all-around medal since Jonathan Horton‘s bronze in 2010.

Favorite Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine fell off both pommel horse and high bar, finishing eighth.

Verniaiev took silver in Rio, just .099 behind Uchimura.

Worlds continue with the women’s all-around final on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, live on The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on Olympicchannel.com and the Olympic Channel app.

The men return for apparatus finals on Saturday and Sunday, including Moldauer on floor exercise.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule | ScoresWomen to Watch | Men to Watch

2018 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships broadcast schedule

Matthew Centrowitz, Jenny Simpson
Getty Images
Leave a comment

NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold combine to air daily live coverage of the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships from Thursday through Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.

Athletes will compete for national titles and spots on the team for the first Athletics World Cup in London next month. More details on Athletics World Cup qualifying here.

While veteran Olympic champions will miss the event, a new generation of sprinters headlines the entry lists. A full competition schedule is here.

Noah Lyles and Michael Norman, who were fourth and fifth in the 2016 Olympic Trials 200m as 18-year-olds, have been the most impressive U.S. male sprinters this season and go head-to-head for the first time in two years.

Sydney McLaughlin, who reached the Rio Olympic 400m hurdles semifinals as a 17-year-old, is entered in the 400m.

Olympic and world champions also scatter the distance races and field events, including Matthew Centrowitz and Jenny Simpson (1500m), Emma Coburn (3000m steeplechase), Christian Taylor (Olympic triple jump champ also entered in the 400m), Tianna Bartoletta and Jeff Henderson (long jump), Jenn Suhr (pole vault) and Michelle Carter and Ryan Crouser (shot put).

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Usain Bolt’s Olympic spikes stolen

Day Time (ET) Network Key Events
Thursday 2-11 p.m. NBC Sports Gold 100m first round, 10,000m finals
Friday 12:30-11 p.m. NBC Sports Gold 100m finals, 400m semifinals
11 p.m.-1 a.m. NBCSN, Gold
Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Finals: 400m, 1500m, 100m hurdles
4-6 p.m. NBC, Gold
Sunday 12:30-6 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Finals: 200m, 5000m, 110m hurdles
4-6 p.m. NBC, Gold

Allyson Felix among sprinters to miss USATF Outdoor Championships

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Olympic gold medalists Allyson FelixJustin GatlinTori BowieLaShawn MerrittBrianna McNealKerron Clement and Dalilah Muhammad are among the stars not entered in this week’s USATF Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

Christian Coleman, who took 100m silver at 2017 Worlds between Gatlin and Usain Bolt, will also miss the event.

Any athlete not on the current entry list will not compete.

Big-name absences aren’t shocking this year given it is the only year in the four-year cycle without an Olympics or world championships to qualify for at nationals.

Felix, Gatlin, Bowie and Coleman have all dealt with injuries or withdrawn from international meets this spring. Merritt hasn’t raced on the Diamond League circuit this season.

Felix, the American record holder with 25 combined Olympic and world outdoor championships medals, will not race at senior nationals for the first time since 2002, when she was 16 years old.

A new generation of sprinters will headline nationals, including Noah Lyles and Michael Norman in the 200m and Sydney McLaughlin in the 400m. Phyllis Francis, the world 400m champion, is entered in the 200m. Kori Carter, the world 400m hurdles champion, is in the 100m hurdles with world-record holder Kendra Harrison.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Usain Bolt’s Olympic spikes stolen