Favourites prevail in men’s Rings and Vault

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Eleftherios Petrounias triumphed in rings with a score of 16.000, while Ri Se-Gwang took vault gold despite a stumble.

Eleftherios Petrounias showed off his superior power in the Olympic gymnastics strongman event as he edged out local favourite and 2012 champion Arthur Zanetti to take the rings gold medal. The Greek added the Rio Games title to his world and European crowns with a score of 16.000. Brazilian Zanetti lost out on the top prize by 0.234 while Russia’s Denis Abliazin had to settle for bronze.

Petrounias delivered a routine that combined moments of perfect stillness with a rapid series of somersaults, his body unfurling like a ribbon. There was not a wobble in sight as he held on to the Maltese cross — where a gymnast holds the rings with his body lined up horizontally — for what seemed an eternity before flowing into a number of handstands. His face quivered with the effort, and every vein and sinew stood out in his arms as he held himself in the cross position.

Uncoiling for the final time, he launched himself into his dismount and on nailing it he saluted the crowd with a raised fist, confident he would become the first Greek since Dimosthenis Tampakos in 2004 to win the rings. Six more competitors followed but none came close to breaching the 16-point barrier, despite Zanetti being roared on to the rings with chants of “Brazil-Brazil-Brazil”. It was Greece’s second gold in Rio.

“We worked very much in the details and to be stable and keep my face without expression, so this is a big deal to not move and hold the positions a little bit more than normal. And if you have a good landing, as I had, I think I might have been the only one who stuck it, that’s how the 16 came. That was my goal from the beginning, my 16,” the Olympic champion said.

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