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Home News Men’s world champions duel disrupted in men’s all-around final

Men’s world champions duel disrupted in men’s all-around final

Summer Games 4 August 2023
Zhang Boheng (China) on pommel horse in men’s individual all-around

Zhang Boheng (China) on pommel horse in men’s individual all-around The crème de la crème of men’s gymnastics has gathered at the Chengdu FISU World University Games with the crowd’s attention focused on two favourites for the all-around title.

China’s Zhang Boheng and Japan’s Hashimoto Daiki have traded all-around titles at every international competition since 2021.

The 21-year-old Japanese star had claimed gold at Tokyo Olympics, but Zhang turned that around and won that year’s World Championship on his opponent ‘s home soil in Kitakyushu.

Hashimoto reclaimed the title in 2022 with a slim margin of just .433 points, however, it was again the Chinese athlete who celebrated a victory in Chengdu.

“Hashimoto is so powerful and respectful,” admits Zhang, “so before the competition I told myself that I won’t think too much about the final result and tried to ease myself”.

Shi Cong (China) on rings during men’s individual all-around

But an unfortunate event deprived the crowd form watching this spectacular duel when Hashimoto suffered a scary fall off the pommel horse in second rotation. The Japanese tumbled off to the side, knocking his head on the floor and was forced to withdraw from the final.

“I feel very sorry, maybe he was not in a good condition today. I don’t know how his injury is, but I hope he can recover, and we can compete with each other soon,” Zhang immediately commented after the accident, wishing all the best to his opponent. Fierce rivals in the arena, but outside, friends who respect each other.

“The competition between us is irreplaceable in the world. It is quite bold and also quite enjoyable for the audience,” continues Zhang while admitting the similarities between the two. “We push each other forward, as well. We should be considered not only the top athletes but the top competitors as well.”

Zhang, the physical education student from Hunan Normal University, had a healthy lead over countryman Shi Cong and looked to be in control for gold heading to his final rotation, the horizontal bar. A fall during his routine sent a dramatic hush over the crowd. Time seemed to drag, as he waited for his final score but when it arrived, he had just held on to the gold medal by a mere 0.335.

With Shi sitting in second, it was a double celebration for the home country. Both Zhang and Shi already have a gold after China clinched title in men’s team event.

Kaya Kazuma (Japan) on parllel bars during men’s individual all-around final

Kaya Kazuma was able to soothe the pain of Japanese fans by securing a bronze.

“I was frustrated and worried. That also meant I became the only Japanese gymnast to compete for the medals. I felt stressed but I put all my passion in my routine in order to complete”, confided the 26-year-old Olympian.

In the evening’s women’s all-around event final, it was also a 1-2 finish for China with Ou Yushan taking gold with 54.498 points and her teammate Luo Huan silver with 53.765. As in the men’s the bronze also went to a Japanese gymnast as Sakaguchi Ayaka finished 0.600 back of Luo.

The individual apparatus finals will go on Saturday in Chengdu to wrap up artistic gymnastics competition.

Written by Ana Brenčić, FISU Young Reporter