Uchimura on Top as Worlds Under Way in Antwerp
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In search of an unprecedented fourth world all-around title, Olympic champion Kohei Uchimura (Japan) leads the men's individual qualification as the 2013 World Championships began Monday in Antwerp.


Kohei Uchimura (Japan) could be the first gymnast to catch a

One more men's qualification session takes place Tuesday morning, followed by the first three sessions of women's qualification. This year's world championships format is for all-around and apparatus only, with no team competition taking place.

Competing in the third and final subdivision of the day, Uchimura cooly notched 91.924 points, with scores ranging from 15.000 on still rings to 15.658 on high bar. With his eye on the all-around title instead of apparatus finals, Uchimura competed easier sets than he is capable of on several events. He leads the qualification on high bar and is second on floor exercise (behind teenaged teammate Kenzo Shirai), and eighth on both pommel horse and parallel bars.

U.S. champion Sam Mikulak (89.532) grabbed the lead in the first subdivision Monday morning and in contention for several event finals. He began on parallel bars with a hit routine that earned 15.400 (currently seventh). He is currently fourth on high bar, where he threw a Kolman and Cassina for 15.366), and seventh on floor exercise.

"It was fun to be out there, and I started it off with some really good routines," said Mikulak, a 2012 Olympian. "Parallel bars was my first world’s competition event ever, so to hit my routine and stick the landing was pretty cool."

Chinese newcomers Lin Chaopan (89.430) and Zhou Shixiong (88.898). Both gymnasts impressed on parallel bars and have a strong chance of making the final. Lin currently sits in third (15.733/6.7 Difficulty). Zhou, who won the Chinese National Games earlier this month, is in fourth with 15.666, showing the only Difficulty value above 7.0 on the event.

Brazil's Sergio Sasaki (88.699), Germany's Fabian Hambüchen (88.064) and Britain's Dan Purvis (87.031) rounded out the top seven after the third subdivision. Hambüchen is currently second on high bar (15.633/7.1) and third on floor exercise.

Several gymnasts had an off day and finished lower than their potential. British Olympian Max Whitlock, the European floor exercise co-champion, scored just 14.533 on the event and swallowed a 12.900 on still rings. Whitlock, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist on pommel horse and with the British team, is currently in fourth on pommel horse (15.400).

Ukrainian star Oleg Vernyayev began with a disastrous 11.666 on high bar and struggled on pommel horse (13.533). He managed to pull himself up to 14th place with a strong effort on vault (15.041 average for second in qualification) and 15.200 on parallel bars.

Verynayev's 2012 Olympic teammate Nikolai Kuksenkov had a disappointing world championship debut for Russia. Kuksenkov, who won the University Games all-around title in July, could compete high bar only because of recent thumb injury and struggled for 13.733.

Kenzo Shirai, who turned 17 in August, proved a sensation in his world debut. The twisting talent became the first gymnast to successfully compete a triple-twisting Yurchenko vault as well as a quadruple twist on floor exercise. His incredible floor exercise routine, which also included a 3 1/2 to Rudi and a front full to triple-twisting front before he stuck the quad dismount, earned the only score of the day above 16.0 (16.233/7.4).

Four-time Italian Olympian Alberto Busnari, 35, leads pommel horse with (15.633/7.1). American Brandon Wynn (15.700/6.8) is on top on still rings, while Olympic champion Yang Hak Seon (Korea) leads vault (15.299 average). Greek veteran Vasileos Tsolakidis, 34, has the top score on parallel bars (15.866/6.8).

The fourth and final subdivision takes place Tuesday morning. Follow IG Online on Facebook and Twitter for live commentary!

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