Nikita Nagornyy shrugged off nearly 30 years’ worth of pressure to give Russia its first men’s team gymnastics world title since the Soviet era.
A year after losing to China by less than five-hundredths of a point, Russia took advantage of a crucial fall by a Chinese gymnast to turn the tables in Stuttgart, Germany.
Ivan Stretovich and Artur Dalaloyan built a solid lead for Russia with their high bar routines, leaving Nagornyy to seal the win when he stuck his dismount.
“I enjoyed the moment because these sensations and impressions that you feel before going out there, the responsibility, that’s something you can never find in life,” said Nagornyy, a team silver medalist behind China at the 2016 Olympics and 2018 world championships. “Only sports can give you emotions like that.”
China seemed in complete control when Zou Jingyuan set by far the best score on the parallel bars to send his team into the high bar — the last rotation for both China and Russia — with a solid 1.394-point lead. However, that all changed with China’s very next routine. Sun Wei fell on a release, and suddenly the competition was Russia’s for the taking.
Russia finished with 261.726 points. That was 0.997 of a point ahead of China, which won the men’s team event at seven of the previous eight world championships.
It was the first time Russia had won this title since the Soviet Union’s victory in 1991, although it won the Olympic gold medal in the same event in 1996. Another ex-Soviet nation, Belarus, took the world title in 2001, the last European nation to do so.
Japan took the bronze, continuing its run of reaching the men’s team podium at every world championships since 2003. It was the first year since 1991 that the same three teams made the podium two years running.
The U.S. finished fourth with 254.578 points as two-time world bronze medalist Sam Mikulak bounced back from a poor showing in qualifying, posting the third-best scores on floor, parallel bars and high bar.
Calipari weighs in on California law
Kentucky coach John Calipari broke his public silence on the California law permitting college players to profit off their names, images and likenesses in commercial endorsements.
Speaking on Kentucky Sports Radio show, Calipari said, “These kids, their name and likeness is theirs. They own it.”
But what about a possible conflict with a shoe contract that has a deal with a school’s athletic department, he asked. And would, say, a swimmer receive the same compensation as a football player?
“You can’t just say, ‘yeah, I’m for this,’” Calipari said. “Now, you can say that if you’re being political and acting like you’re getting ahead of this. But the reality of it is what exactly are you talking about you’re for? ‘Well, I’m for the players.’ Really?”
Tennis: Novak Djokovic opened his title defense at the Shanghai Masters by beating Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Russia-beats-China-to-win-men-s-team-world-14505351.php.