Japanese superstar Kohei Uchimura produced a flawless acrobatic display to win a sixth consecutive men's all-around title in style at the world gymnastics championships on Friday. The 26-year-old Olympic champion's daring routine delighted the enthusiastic and at times vocal 9,000-plus crowd in Glasgow's Hydro Arena.
Despite the noise level Uchimura cooly executed on the six apparatus - floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar - to take gold ahead of Cuba's Manrique Larduet with China's Deng Shudi winning bronze. "Gymnastics is a very mental sport. I'm not sure that it's suitable for such an enthusiastic audience," joked the gymnast known as 'King Kohei'.
"During the competition I heard the announcer shout to the crowd to make noise. I don't think it's a good idea in competition!"
Uchimura scored 92.332 points overall to finish 1.634 ahead of 19-year-old Larduet (90.698) with Deng at 2.233 (90.099). It was his 18th world medal — ninth in gold — and his second in Glasgow after helping Japan win a first team gold in 37 years on Wednesday. "This is the first time I've gotten a gold medal after winning the team gold, that is why I was more relaxed today," said Uchimura, who had fallen off the high bar in the team final.
Larduet, 19, was competing in his first worlds as Cuba returned to the international competition for the first time since 2003. "I've been watching him (Uchimura) on video for several years now," said Larduet. "I'm proud to be able to compete alongside him now."
Deng, 24, put China back on the men's all-around podium for the first time since 2007. "My dream was to medal in the all-around," said Deng, who also won team bronze with China. "Today's performance will link up with next year's Olympics."
Uchimura, who became the first man to win three world all-around titles in 2011, can also add to his tally Sunday in the high bar final. After a fall on the floor in qualifying and crashing off the high bar in the team final, Uchimura had warned he would seek perfection in the all-around.
And he did not disappoint. The gymnast from Fukuoka started off solid on the floor, scoring highest with 15.733, to lead Deng by 0.600 after the first rotation. He also scored highest on the vault and it was a done deal as he finished off in style on the high bar. The normally stoic athlete clenched his fists and punched the air on dismounting and even managed a smile.
"I wanted to win the all-around title without any mistakes so I left out a few difficult elements," he explained. "I wanted to produce my best performance with perfection."
Oleg Verniaiev of the Ukraine had looked as if he could challenge after qualifying just 0.433 behind the Japanese star. But errors on the floor and pommel horse left the European champion fourth ahead of Britain's Max Whitlock, the 2014 silver medallist, who fell off the high bar. Uchimura has also won five Olympic medals including the 2012 all-around gold.
"I don't think about the number of medals I have but of the qualify of my performance and to reach out and touch the audience with my performance," he said. But with less than a year before the Rio Olympics the only major title missing from his collection is the Olympic team gold, after taking silver in 2008 and 2012 behind China. The competition continues on Saturday with apparatus finals - women's vault and uneven bars and men's rings, floor and pommel horse.
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