Wednesday, January 19

Daiki Hashimoto is the hosts’ gymnastics hero while GB’s Joe Fraser falls short | Tokyo 2020 Olympics

One of the great hopes of the Japan Olympics at home was the opportunity for the greatest male gymnast of all time, Kohei Uchimura, to receive a victorious send-off on the night at home. That dream died cruelly in its haste; a fall into his lonely routine in the qualifying round. But in the last three days of competition, in his place has sprung the talent of a new young hope to replace him immediately.

Instead, Daiki Hashimoto has become the Olympic men’s overall champion at just 19 years old and after a tight and breathless final in which four tenths of a second separated the top three places.

The teenager scored 88,465 to hold off Chinese gymnast Xiao Ruoteng and the man who just beat him in the team final, Nikita Nagornyy of the Russian Olympic Committee, to take his place at the center of the sport.

While Hashimoto prospered, Britain enjoyed a varied day. James Hall put together six solid routines and the consistency that carried him through the qualifying rounds and the six events he also contributed to during the team final was rewarded with an eighth place, their best overall result in a major competition at the level. world.

In the process, he felt that he proved the doubts wrong. “Maybe it’s just the voices in my head, but today I was able to show myself and the people of my country that I belong here,” he said. “I am happy with my performance and that is the main thing.”

While Joe Fraser finished with a solid ninth place, he struggled for a few parts before redeeming himself at the end. “I’ll keep it on him forever,” Hall said. “He did it unbelievably, he made a couple of mistakes, but it’s the future of British gymnastics. Is incredible. You don’t have a weak piece, all you need is consistency. He is 22 years old, he has time and I am excited to see what comes to him ”.

There is no question that Fraser has the ability to become a world-class gymnast. It has already demonstrated its potential in two stratospheric days of competition in Tokyo. He ranked fifth behind the gymnasts of the sport’s three male superpowers – Japan, the ROC and China, allowing him the experience of rotating through the finals with the best. Then, in the team final, he pinned Great Britain to fourth place.

Brit Joe Fraser fell off the pommel horse but recovered to produce a grandstand finish on the rings.
Brit Joe Fraser fell off the pommel horse but recovered to produce a grandstand finish on the rings. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP / Getty Images

This time, Fraser’s top-five hopes were dashed with just the second apparatus as he lost his momentum on the pommel horse and fell, scoring 13,300. He then struggled on his vault, took several big steps forward, and was punished with a 13,100. But his spirit was perhaps more reflected in how he ended up, putting together a solid routine on his favorite parallel bars before going all out with a spectacular and spectacular horizontal bar routine.

“I made some mistakes along the way, that’s gymnastics, mistakes happen and I take it on the chin and try to improve by moving to the next apparatus,” Fraser said. “I tried putting on a show on a high bar, so getting through that routine was great, it’s my first time doing that routine in a competition. So to do it on the biggest stage in the world, I’m very happy with that. “

The possibility of a good ending remains. Fraser qualified for the parallel bars final, the apparatus in which he became world champion in 2019. “I’m excited for the parallel bars final, I have six days to rest and recover and prepare for the final. All the greatest people in the world are fighting on the uneven bars, so I can’t wait. “

In the US and many other Western countries, female gymnasts have generally captured the public’s imagination far more than men. But in Japan, men’s gymnastics is in much better health.

His rewarded faith, Hashimoto’s overall gold medal means that Japan now has an unbroken chain of three full Olympic titles after Uchumura’s double in 2012 and 2016. When inevitably asked about the old legend, whom Hashimoto naturally quotes as his idol, coldly credited the past as he looked to the future: “Although I want to continue what Uchimura has built and founded in gymnastics over the past decades, he wants to lead as a next-generation gymnast in Japan.”

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