(Reuters) - Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy clinched the men’s all-around title at the gymnastics world championships on Friday ahead of last year’s champion and team mate Artur Dalaloyan in Stuttgart.
Needing 12.560 points on the horizontal bar to seal victory, Nagornyy landed a 14.166 to finish with an overall score of 88.772 to beat Dalaloyan by a comfortable margin of 1.607.
The pair’s podium dominance followed Russia’s first-ever world title in the men’s team event on Wednesday to ensure ideal preparation for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“Unbelievably happy because this is what motivated me to go and train in the gym daily for the past year,” Nagornyy, who will be bidding for his third gold of the week in Saturday’s floor final, told reporters.
“Not just me but the whole team. What can I say? We were going here for this medal and we got it and we are unbelievably happy.”
Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev claimed the bronze medal after producing a spectacular routine on the parallel bars for the day’s top score of 15.475.
For the first time in 25 years, all three podium spots for the men’s all-around world title were occupied by European gymnasts.
China’s Xiao Ruoteng, who finished second in Doha last year, was among the medal contenders until the final rotation, where he lost his grip on the high bar midway through his routine before returning to wrap up a below-par effort of 12.666.
The 2017 world champion finished fourth overall, while team mate Sun Wei came fifth.
“Actually, today through my first five rotations I showed quite a high standard,” Ruoteng said.
“I wanted to add difficulty to my all-around, and going to the high bar I was trailing by about 0.5 so I was weighing up adding difficulty and I decided to do so.
“To be honest, I’m closest to Nagornyy in terms of level.”
Coming into Stuttgart, Nagornyy was ranked among the heavy favourites for the event after winning the European all-around title earlier this year in Szczecin.
The 22-year-old’s European Championships performance had been the best score recorded this season until he bettered it by 0.107 in front of a raucous crowd in Stuttgart.
Dalaloyan conceded his title to Nagornyy after a poor landing off the vault for 14.066, which included a 0.1 penalty.
But he recovered well in the final two rotations, earning scores of 15.233 and 14.233 on the parallel bars and high bar respectively.
American’s six-time national champion Sam Mikulak was the surprise leader at the halfway stage but mistakes on the pommel horse in the penultimate rotation meant he came seventh overall.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris