Japan’s Daiki Hashimoto became the youngest man to add a world all-around gymnastics title to Olympic gold in the event, one year after becoming the first teenage man to claim the Olympic title.
Hashimoto, a 21-year-old who entered worlds with wrist problems, outdueled Chinese rival and defending world champion, 22-year-old Zhang Boheng, in a battle of two men who may lead the sport for years to come.
“I couldn’t win this competition last year because he won. So I felt sad,” Hashimoto said. “Competing against him was a motivation [today]. The battle with Zhang Boheng is so good.”
Hashimoto totaled 87.198 points in Liverpool, England on Friday to be crowned the world’s best male gymnast. Zhang was second with 86.765, a year after he defeated Hashimoto by 17 hundredths of a point at the world championships.
“I feel a little bit disappointed, because as defending champion I didn’t do my best in the final today,” Zhang said. “A lot of the dismounts, especially in the floor exercise, I could have improved those.”
Japan’s Wataru Tanigawa took bronze.
Americans Brody Malone and Asher Hong placed fourth and sixth, two days after the U.S. finished a disappointing fifth in the team final.
“Today went really well compared to how the last two days of competition have gone, so I’m happy with that,” said Malone, the two-time reigning U.S. all-around champion. “But it’s definitely bittersweet to be that close [to a medal] and taste it, but just not get it. I’m definitely motivated.”
It’s the first time the U.S. put two men into the top 10 of a world all-around since 2003 (Paul Hamm gold, Jason Gatson eighth) and the second time in history to have two in the top six after 1979. Jonathan Horton was the last American man to earn a medal, bronze in 2010.
Hong, at 18 the youngest U.S. male gymnast at worlds since 2009 (Danell Leyva), became the second-youngest man from any nation to finish that high in the all-around since 2001. He was in fourth place going into the final rotation and fell off high bar, his weakest event.
“It’s just mind-boggling,” Hong told GymCastic of his worlds debut. “There’s still a lot to improve, so I’m going to go back home, keep training hard, work on high bar, upgrade my difficulty, clean up all the routines, but I think that there’s a big possibility [that I can win in the future] for sure.”
Hashimoto, who made his world championships debut as a high school student in 2019, has succeeded his gymnastics idol, six-time world all-around champion Kohei Uchimura, as king of the sport.
He followed two older brothers into gymnastics and was nicknamed “Mr. Infinite Stamina” by a coach for his appetite for training.
Like Uchimura, Hashimoto rocketed to individual stardom while his team has been unable to get on top of the podium.
Hashimoto owns world team silver and bronze medals and Olympic team silver. Uchimura, who made his Olympic debut in 2008, waited until 2015 to win his first team title.
Worlds conclude Saturday and Sunday with individual apparatus finals, live on Peacock.
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly reported Hong as the youngest man to place that high in a world all-around since 2001. Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun finished third last year as a younger 18-year-old.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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