MONTREAL, Canada—There’s a new men’s world champion and he’s from China. Xiao Ruoteng succeeded the injured Kohei Uchimura as “best male gymnast in the world.”
Xiao led a 1-2 sweep for China on the all-around podium, with Lin Chaopan slipping into second place just .017 ahead of Kenzo Shirai of Japan.
This result signifies a remarkable turnaround for the Chinese men, who at last summer’s Olympics failed to win a single individual medal. The only medal they walked away with was a bronze in the team competition. The Chinese women also had the same result—bronze in team and that’s it. This was viewed as a huge disappointment for both programs, but especially the men who were the defending Olympic champions and had won every world team title from 1994-2014 with the exception of 2001, when Belarus won. In addition to those string of team victories, the Chinese men always pick up multiple individual medals at world and Olympic competition.
Shirai, who is best known for his incredible twisting prowess—both on floor and vault—stepped up for the Uchimura-less Japan and took the bronze. Not bad for a guy who is competing in the all-around for the first time internationally.
Here’s video of his floor routine from the all-around competition. It’s fun to play “Can you count how many twists?” when you’re watching Shirai on floor. It’s like those games when you try to guess how many candies are in a jar or get as close as you can to the answer. Just do the best you can with this one, too.
As for Manrique Larduet, the top qualifier, the one I said could possibly win this whole thing? Well, he ended the competition in fifth place. It should be noted that second through fifth place were separated by four tenths of a point. Things were really tight at the top. Larduet didn’t fall or count a major error. For Larduet, it was a bunch of little things that doomed his chances for a podium finish in Montreal. He really didn’t stick any of his landings anywhere, and he got a lower than normal score on pommel horse. By the time he reached his best events—parallel bars and high bar—he was too far behind to make up the ground.
He was the last competitor to go in the all-around—top qualifier is always the final gymnast up—and Larduet realized as he landed his triple twisting double layout that it wasn’t going to be enough. Here Larduet’s expression when he landed his high bar dismount.
He may not have won a medal, but he definitely got the crowd.