Nikita Nagornyy’s Russian team stormed past defending champions Japan and superpower China to claim the coveted men’s artistic gymnastics gold at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday with the last tumble on the floor.
The Russians turned the tables on Japan, who had pipped them to the title in Rio in 2016. China had to settle for bronze.
“Do you remember the news about the typhoon (Tropical Storm Nepartak) this morning? Well, the typhoon has happened, we took the medal, so don’t worry about the typhoon anymore,” Nagornyy smiled.
Nagornyy was joined by Artur Dalaloyan – the 2018 world all-around champion who was miraculously competing after recovering from surgery on a severed Achilles tendon in April.
Also in the team winning Russia’s first men’s team gold since Atlanta in 1996 were David Belyavskiy and Denis Ablyazin.
And they swelled with pride on top of the podium as Tchaikovsky’s concerto No 1 filtered out through the sound system at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. The Russian composer’s music was chosen to play the role of super sub, as Russia’s national anthem cannot be used because the country is under a doping suspension and its athletes are competing under a neutral banner.
The outcome of the first gold on offer at the gymnastics competition was in the balance right until the closing exercise.
China were within less than a point of the Rio silver medallists going into the sixth rotation, with Japan, the early pacesetters, on course for third.