Ri Se Gwang

Getty Images

Ri Se-Gwang, Olympic vault champion, retires from gymnastics

Leave a comment

Ri Se-Gwang, the Rio Olympic vault champion from North Korea, announced his retirement last week, according to the International Gymnastics Federation.

Ri, 35, earned one of North Korea’s two gold medals overall at the Rio Games.

Ri performed the most difficult combination of vaults — each with a 6.4 difficulty — and took one step on each landing to beat Russian Denis Ablyazin and Japanese Kenzo Shirai. He became the oldest Olympic gymnastics champion since 1968, according to the OlyMADMen.

Rio marked Ri’s lone Olympics.

He earned vault bronze at the 2007 World Championships but was unable to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games.

North Korea’s gymnastics federation was banned from international competition during the London Olympics as punishment for age falsification.

After the ban was lifted, Ri earned world titles in 2014, 2015 and 2018. He failed to make the eight-man vault final at 2019 Worlds won by Russian Nikita Nagornyy, the world all-around champion.

MORE: Ragan Smith finds joy in college gymnastics after life-changing decision

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Sam Mikulak earns first individual world championships medal

Leave a comment

Sam Mikulak had to wait until the very last routine of the world championships, but it had to be worth it. He’s finally an individual medalist.

The two-time Olympian and five-time U.S. all-around champion earned bronze on high bar in Doha, breaking through after four previous fourth-place finishes in Olympic or world finals. Including two this week and one earlier Saturday on parallel bars.

Mikulak will no longer be known as arguably the best gymnast in U.S. history without individual hardware.

“It’s a big weight off my chest,” he said. “It’s been such a emotional roller-coaster throughout this entire meet. … I can finally rest easy, go home and hang out with [bull terrier] Marshall and [girlfriend] Mia.”

Flying Dutchman Epke Zonderland earned gold with 15.1 for his baffling release moves, adding to his Olympic and world titles from 2012, 2013 and 2014. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura took silver with 14.8, his 21st career world medal. Mikulak snagged bronze with 14.533, just .033 ahead of 2017 World champ Tin Srbic of Croatia.

No man had a better meet than Russian Artur Dalaloyan, who became the first man to earn five medals at a worlds since Vitaly Scherbo in 1991.

GYM WORLDS: Full Results | TV Schedule

It had been a difficult week for Mikulak. The 26-year-old took perhaps the hardest defeat of his career on Wednesday, when he erred on high bar on the last rotation of the all-around final. He entered that routine in third place and would have earned at least bronze with a hit.

After, the normally California cool Mikulak said he was “pissed” and that he would either “go home dying, or I’m going to get a medal.”

He had four more chances in apparatus finals Friday and Saturday but finished seventh on floor exercise and fourth on pommel horse and parallel bars. However, high bar is Mikulak’s best event, despite those mistakes in the all-around.

“Today was a lot of redemption from all-around finals, being able to prove that I can go out, rock a set under this kind of pressure,” he said. “All-around finals, I played a little bit of the conservative route, played it too safe. You can never play it safe in this sport. That’s how you get in trouble. Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go.”

Mikulak saved the U.S. men from going medal-less at an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2009, though the team finished fourth and Yul Moldauer was fourth on floor. Mikulak is the only active team member with Olympic experience.

“I feel like a veteran, finally, in this sport,” he said. “People have been saying I’m a veteran, but I think this is the first time I’ve proven I’m one of those.”

Also Saturday, North Korean Olympic champion Ri Se Gwang won vault for the third time at worlds.

Chinese Zou Jingyuan earned his second straight world title on parallel bars with a 16.433-point routine, topping Olympic champion Oleg Verniaiev‘s 15.591.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Why Simone Biles can win with two falls

Gymnastics: North Korea’s Ri takes gold; Bronze awarded via tiebreak

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

North Korea’s Se Gwang Ri posted a 15.691 on the vault to take gold at the Rio Olympics on Monday.

The 31-year-old Ri boasts golds from the 2014 and 2015 World Championships as well.

Going last after a bronze on the rings, Russia’s Denis Abliazin surged into silver with a 15.516.

Japan’s Kenzo Shirai and Romania’s Marian Dragulesco posted twin 15.449 scores, with Shirai taking the bronze via tiebreak.

It’s North Korea’s second gold of the Games.