Teen pips 43-year-old gymnast to Asian Games gold

Sixteen-year-old Yeo Seo-jeong snatched the first prize from Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina.

Women’s vault gold medallist South Korea’s Yeo Seo-jeong (centre) with silver medallist Oksana Chusovitana (left) and bronze medallist Pyon Ry Yong during the medal ceremony on Thursday in Jakarta.   -  AP

South Korea’s Yeo Seo-jeong wept as she vaulted her way to victory at the Asian Games on Thursday in a tense final that saw her snatch gold from 43-year-old Oksana Chusovitina in the dying moments. The 16-year-old’s win was the second of the day for Korea, stopping gymnastics giant China in its tracks after it claimed all four golds on the first three days of the competition.

It came after Kim Han-sol secured gold in the men’s floor — the opening apparatus final — with a swaggering routine, much to the delight of the vocal pack of South Korean fans madly waving flags and whooping.

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Compatriot Yeo said she was happy with her performance in the women’s vault but was focussed on Tokyo 2020, where she is intent on winning a gold to dedicate to her father Yeo Hong-chul. The older Yeo won a silver medal on vault at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, but never secured an Olympic gold. “I want to go there and win gold for him,” she said after securing the top spot with 14.387.

Runner-up Chusovitina, from Uzbekistan and the oldest female gymnast in the competition by far, said that “silver was like getting gold.” She stepped on to the podium with a score of 14.287, pushing North Korea’s Pyon Rye Yong into the bronze medal position with 13.875.

Drama

The men’s floor final was also full of drama as Taiwan’s Tang Chia-Hung, who had led from the outset, was pipped by the second-last gymnast to perform, 22-year-old Kim. The Korean’s 14.675 pushed Tang into silver medal position with 14.425. However, China did not leave empty-handed after Lin Chaopan scooped the bronze with a score of 14.225, his third medal in Jakarta and China’s 3,000th across all editions of the Asian Games.

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Japan’s new superstar Kakeru Tanigawa finished way down in eighth place — a disappointing result after he hit the headlines as Japan’s new national champion earlier this year.

In the men’s pommel horse, Taiwan’s Lee Chih-Kai sneaked into first place ahead of China’s Zou Jingyuan and Sun Wei, finishing second and third respectively. But by the time of the women’s uneven bars, the penultimate apparatus of the night, China had found its winning form once again.

As the opening gymnast of the event, Liu Tingting spun herself into a commanding lead and stayed there, while Luo Huan secured silver. Both were members of the Chinese squad that bagged gold in the team event. In the men’s rings, a perfect landing from Japan’s Shogo Nonomura could not stop China’s Deng Shudi, who grabbed the final gold of the night.