Kohei Uchimura left it late — very, very late — before a heart-stopping horizontal bar routine lifted him into the pantheon of greats as he became the first gymnast in 44 years to win back-to-back Olympic all around titles on Wednesday. “Six World championships and two Olympic wins in eight years is a great victory. I’ve raised the bar,” said the champion, who unfurled eight fingers one-by-one to confirm his haul.
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.