Hardly a single step was taken. Hardly a single form break was visible. And while he effortlessly performed some of the most difficult gymnastics in the world, hardly even a struggle was detectable.
With one of the great all-around performances of all time, Kohei Uchimura has now added his name to the history books as the only gymnast – male or female – to win three consecutive world all-around titles. The only thing disputable about Uchimura’s performance in this all-around was whether his scores were high enough. Consistent with the growing concerns around the world that today’s execution scores are simply not reflective of the true quality of the gymnastics performed, Kohei’s scores in tonight’s all-around final – though easily high enough to win – were still somewhat curious. An impeccable floor routine with hardly a single movement of the feet yielded nearly a full point in deductions. His high bar routine in the final rotation – one of the smoothest, most effortless, and most flawless routines he’s ever performed – only managed a 9.0 out of a 10.0 in execution. Although scores greater than 9.0 on men’s high bar in particular are extremely hard to come by, these numbers just fail to capture the true magnificence of what Kohei Uchimura did in this all-around final.
Not that it mattered. Uchimura’s 93.631 is still considered stunning in today’s scoring system, and was still more than three points higher than second place Philip Boy. The real battle in this competition was for silver and bronze, and unlike the gold, these medals were completely up for grabs throughout the entire competition.
Philip Boy was perhaps owed some redemption after two disappointing days of competition thus far at these world championships. After struggling tremendously on pommel horse during qualifications and team finals and looking overall much more sluggish than he did last year, few probably expected that the popular German gymnast was going to be able to defend the all-around silver medal he earned in Rotterdam. But with a six-for-six effort, capped off by a spectacular high bar routine that even outscored Uchimura’s, Boy not only jumped into the medals in the final event, but surpassed Japan’s Koji Yamamuro for the silver. Yamamuro looked comfortable and confident across all six events and was able to feed off the energy of the Japanese crowd to join his now legendary teammate on the podium, earning a well-deserved bronze.
Both Americans were ousted from second and third place spots they held after the qualifications, but for John Orozco, it wasn’t due to a disappointing performance. The 18-year-old Orozco, who has now hit 16 for 16 routines in his first world championships, was brilliant again on all six events, and in particular on his final two. After a couple of slight errors on pommel horse and rings kept him down in the rankings early in the competition, Orozco roared back with essentially flawless performances on parallel bars and high bar – complete with gorgeous lines and stuck landings. Remarkably, his execution scores still didn’t break into the 9’s, and he finished off the podium in a still very respectable 5th place. As he’s still regaining strength on floor and vault after tearing his Achilles last year, Orozco will likely be an even more serious all-around threat at next year’s Olympics.
Danell Leyva’s competition started off with the same confidence and consistency he’s shown all year, but a fall on vault certainly took the wind out of his sails. After the judges once again didn’t seem to fully appreciate his impeccable parallel bars work (15.333 with over a point in deductions), all hopes for a medal were gone. On his final event, Leyva crashed to the bar on his Liukin (full twisting Tcatchev) and had to stop his routine, leaving him in 24th place. The stinger left on his armpit won’t hurt nearly as bad as the disappointment of not finishing on the medal podium, but Leyva will be back.
In fact, we’ll see him in the parallel bars finals in just a couple of days, an event where he could not only medal, but potentially challenge for the gold. Let’s just hope the judges will finally agree.