Petrounias, Ri, Wevers Strike Gold in Rio
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World champions Eleftherios Petrounias (Greece) and Ri Se Gwang (North Korea) triumphed in Rio on Monday, while Sanne Wevers ended an 88-year medal drought for the Dutch women.

World champions Eleftherios Petrounias (Greece) and Ri Se Gwang (North Korea) triumphed in Rio on Monday, while Sanne Wevers ended an 88-year medal drought for the Dutch women.

Petrounias won still rings, winning the only medal missing from his career. The 25-year-old Greek specialist nailed his routine (roll to planche, lower to lever press to Maltese, roll to Maltese, back giant, swing to planche, bounce to cross, so far perfect, Honma to cross, piked Yama to front giant, double-twisting double tuck), complete with a stuck dismount, for 16.000, the highest score on rings in Rio.

Petrounias, who back in April was the first to run with the Olympic torch after the lighting ceremony in Olympia, received his gold medal and pointed to the sky to honor his father, who died in 2015. It is the fourth gold medal for Greece in gymnastics and third on rings, following Dimosthenis Tambakos (rings, 2004), Ioannis Melissanidis (floor exercise, 1996) and Ioannis Mitropoulos (rings, 1896).

Petrounias' top rivals, top qualifier Liu Yang (15.600) and You Hao (15.400) of China, both seemed to make tired mistakes. Defending champion Arthur Zanetti of Brazil had the crowd support and difficulty, but did not execute as well and took a step on his dismount for 15.766 and the silver medal. Russia's Denis Ablyazin won the bronze medal (15.700)

Ri won a thrilling vault final and was the undisputed champion. He showed solid landings on both his 6.4-Difficulty namesake vaults, the piked Dragulescu (Ri 1) and full-twisting Tsukahara double back (Ri 2) for an unbeatable 15.691 average. Ri's Olympic gold is the third for North Korean gymnasts after Pae Gil Su (pommel horse, 1992) and Hong Un Jong (vault, 2008).

Ablyazin used the Ri 2 vault and a Li Xiaopeng (Yurchenko half on, Randi off; 6.2D) to win silver (15.516 average), his third medal of the competition.

Japan's Kenzo Shirai gambled and won with his new Yurchenko 3 1/2 twist that earned the highest individual score of the final (15.833). His second vault (Tsukahara 2 1/2) had only a 5.6D but was cleanly done, enough to give him the bronze. Romanian veteran Marian Dragulescu was less lucky, tying Shirai but losing the bronze on a tie-break. Dragulescu had great landings on his eponymous vault and a Li Xiaopeng, but fell victim to the inane IOC rule.

Ukraine's Igor Radivilov, who finished fifth on rings with an undervalued routine, attempted his new handspring triple front. The vault, valued at 7.0D, was heavily cowboyed and barely landed on his feet before he sat down (14.933). It was the only fall of the final.

Women's balance beam was the final routine of the day, and held after men's vault to allow time for the rings to be swapped out with the beam. Heavy favorite Simone Biles of the United States, the top qualifier and two-time world champion, nailed her barani and consecutive layouts, and seemed on her way to a fourth gold medal until she was forced to grab the beam on her front flip. Biles will be unable to break a new record with five gold medals in Rio, but remarkably, the mistake is the only missed routine Biles has had over three world championships and thus far at the Olympic Games.

If Biles is the current queen of gymnastics, Sanne Wevers is the "Dutchess." Her well-designed routine was unique, difficult and beautifully done. The only gymnast to risk a difficult mount, she used a RO, full-twisting back handspring onto the beam, and then moved elegantly from skill to skill (double turn leg horizontal, side aerial to side aerial, front aerial to wolf jump; triple turn small check; full turn leg horizontal to another turn to double turn to leap; switch leap to full-twisting ff; full-twisting gainer) until her dismount. After a delay, the judges determined she had a 6.6D score and a 15.466.

Wevers' gold is only the second ever medal for the Dutch women in gymnastics, coming 88 years after the Netherlands won the women's team title at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.

Laurie Hernandez, the youngest member of the gold medal-winning U.S. squad, performed near a nearly flawless routine that was both difficult and artistic (front pike; front aerial to sissone to split jump; ff layout layout; full turn; sheep jump; front tuck to wolf jump, side aerial switch leap to switch half; double pike) for the silver medal (15.333/6.4D), earning the highest Execution score of the final. The U.S. inquired into Hernandez' D-score but it was rejected.

Biles' mistake cost her 1.0 but she nevertheless won the bronze (14.733). France's Marine Boyer showed the most beautiful two-foot layout of the competition but she took fourth with 14.700, with an inquiry into her D-score also rejected. Flavia Saraiva, the only Brazilian female in the finals, performed last, but could only manage fifth

2004 Olympic balance beam champion Catalina Ponor committed several costly errors (notably balking out of her Onodi, instead of connecting it to a front aerial, ff, two-foot layout) and nearly went over time, having to rush into her dismount (14.000/5.8D). She finished out of the medals in seventh place, leaving Romania without a gymnastics medal for the first time since 1972.

The artistic gymnastics competition concludes Tuesday with the remaining finals: men's parallel bars and high bar, and women's floor exercise. Biles has a chance to tie the Olympic record for a female gymnast if she wins a fourth gold.

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