A spellbinding routine on the horizontal bar lifted Kohei Uchimura into the pantheon of greats as he snatched gold to become the first gymnast in 44-years to win back-to-back Olympic all around titles on Wednesday.
Going into the final round, it seemed as if the unthinkable would happen and the man who has been unbeaten in the event since picking up a silver in the 2008 Olympics would be knocked off his perch by Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev.
In a high quality competition, Verniaiev led the standings from the third rotation and going into the final apparatus, he held a 0.901 of a point lead over the Japanese great.
When Uchimura, who fell from the bar during qualifying, earned 15.800 with his high-flying routine that drew a chorus of “oohs” and “ahhs” each time he performed one of his four release and catch manoeuvres, it left Verniaiev needing to overhaul a target of 14.899.
A score of 14.800 denied him the top prize by just 0.099 of a point and left Uchimura to become only the fourth man, and the first since his compatriot Sawao Kato in 1972, to win successive golds in the event that tests skills across six apparatus.
He won with a total of 92.365. Britain’s Max Whitlock finished third.